Thanksgiving, Christmas, New Years and the Twelfth day of Christmas (the Epiphany) are all history. As they passed I thought about what to offer readers that will help us to cope with our crazy world during this coming year. Leon Panetta said the following during the ceremony naming his successor as Secretary of Defense; “I’m going back home to work in my Walnut Farm and deal with different types of nuts.” What better testimony to the concept that we are all nuts for being here; especially in much less important jobs than as USA’s Secretary of Defense, which brings me to a Course concept that we can use daily to make our way smoother.
It comes from Text Chapter 17 Section IV – The two Pictures. (1)
“It is essential to realize that all defenses [do] what they would defend.” In ACIM the idea pertains to special relationships, but what could be more pertinent to such relationships than people using guns to cope with their difficulties? Placed in context with its next sentence the idea is more complete.
It is essential to realize that all defenses [do] what they would defend. The underlying basis for their effectiveness is that they offer what they defend. (my emphasis)
After the tragic massacre in Newtown the NRA told us we need “a good guy with a gun to stop a bad guy with a gun.” However, the course tells us that to rely on someone else with a gun to defend against someone with a gun merely does what the gunner is offering. Death! And that death is returned to assure that the relationship continues to be poisoned with violence.
I taught children music for over 40 years, mostly in a small public Central School in upstate New York. I would categorically have refused to carry a gun. Further, the idea of arming custodians would have been seen as “nuts.” My colleagues and I during those years (1953-1986) knew that the best way to forestall violence was to emphasize trust and respect between us as teachers, our students and the community.
One morning a boy said, “I don’t trust anyone,” so I asked him a series of questions.
Who fixed you breakfast?” “My mother.”
“Then you trust her.” “Oh OK.”
“You got here on a Bus, trusting the driver, right?”
Then I made the point to my class that the world is built on trust. I gave them several examples like trusting other drivers to do the right things to avoid accidents.
We remove trust when we blindly argue that we must defend ourselves from guns with more guns. A better way is to build trust. Sadly: however, that does not answer the seemed immediate need for security so we grasp at a short term solution, which is our present case using more guns which intensifies the problem. I am convinced that building trust between humans is the best long-term path to reduce violence. To turn the idea around, building trust as a defense builds incrementally as a defense, and that does what it defends. It is a positive behavioral circle.
The Course passage continues with a hard edged allegory which sets destructive behaviors as a picture within a complicated gaudy, gilded bejeweled frame which detracts from the vicious content of the picture. In our case the content is more violence, and the frame represents the flowery rhetoric demanding more guns. The Course tells to “look at the picture, and realize that death is offered you.”
The second picture is of a “Holy Instant,” a glimpse of Heaven set in a frame which allows us to attend to its “timeless content.” So we focus on the content of the pictures. One offers death repeated. The second offers a moment of experience of our eternal home in heaven.
I hope that these thoughts will guide us in our quest to reduce violence in our nation. I remember how just after WW II in Japan Shinichi Suzuki’s Talent Education movement replaced guns in the candy shops with violins. We can follow his example and replace guns with loving thoughts.
!. All of the following quotes from ACIM in this article come from this section of the Text