Friday, August 29, 2014

Amen

You may not be aware, but there is a traditional prohibition against saying "amen" to your own prayer. "Amen" is something that, in theory anyway, we're supposed to say upon hearing somebody else's blessing, but not our own. It certainly isn't a widely observed prohibition, in part because of how many songs include the word "amen" in the lyrics, which all but forces us to say the word! But, it's worth learning about why were not supposed to say amen to our own blessing, because it will make us think about what our blessings, and the word amen, really mean.

"Amen" comes from the Hebrew root which means something like "trustworthy." It's putting our stamp on someone else's words, implying that we put our faith in those words, to use the term loosely. It's a bit like a verbal "ditto," or agreeing to sign on to a letter which someone else has already written. So, saying amen to our own prayer would be a little bit like saying "and I agree" after making a statement. Of course I agree with what I just said — I just said it. It's completely superfluous, and pretty awkward, if you think about it.

But it's the superfluousness which matters to the Rabbis. Because, when it comes to blessings, superfluousness is a big deal. You see, in the rabbinic mind, blessings are an important thing — sacred, actually (and, I guess, obviously). When we say a blessing, we're bringing God into that moment. Eating a piece of bread is just eating a piece of bread. But, saying HaMotzi (the blessing before eating bread) and then eating bread actually turns it into a holy moment. A moment in which, in some way, God is involved. It elevates the ordinary into the sacred, and brings the sacred down into our ordinary world. Blessings are pretty darn important, actually.

And that's why the rabbis are pretty concerned about a wasted blessing—a bracha l’vatla, in the Hebrew. Because, we shouldn't waste something which is so precious. If, just to make up an example, my grandfather had left me a beautiful cup, I hopefully wouldn’t use that cup for drinking water every day, or maybe planting some seeds that I picked up at the store. I might put it somewhere special, and only take it down for special occasions, like Shabbat, perhaps. By treating it that way, I not only respect its special status, but I enhance that status. Treating it as something special actually makes it feel more special to me. Treating it as ordinary and unimportant would inevitably make it so. Well, God is (I hope) pretty important. And by treating God, and God's presence, as important, we honor that reality, but we also enhance it. A wasted blessing makes the rest of our blessings, little by little, less important. Less sacred. And, saying amen when we don't really need to is just a shorthand form of a wasted blessing.

But, there's a tiny bit more to it than that. Because, I just tried to explain to you how important, how sacred a blessing is. But, if blessings are so sacred, why would we ever let anyone say our blessing for us? Why wouldn't we strike the word amen from our vocabulary and insist that each person say each and every blessing for themselves?

Saying amen to someone else's blessing is actually an incredibly powerful statement about your relationship to that person. What you're essentially saying to them is that you're willing to let them stand in for you in this sacred moment. You're willing to let them, for at least this moment, be your surrogate before God. To have the briefest flash of ownership over your spiritual life. Saying amen to someone else's blessing is not only a statement about our relationship with God (which it is because it refers back to their blessing, which is connected to God), it's also a statement about our relationship to that other person. A powerful statement. A beautiful statement, I'd say.

A blessing, said with the proper kavannah (spiritual intention), connects us with God. "Amen," said with the proper kavannah, connects us with God, and with each other. Maybe this is why the rabbis of old say that all it will take to bring the Messiah is one person to ever say a full, proper amen. If I can truly connect myself to you, maybe that will have the power to change the world.

May we all learn to take our words seriously, and may we all learn to treat each and every blessing which crosses our lips as sacred. But, even better, may we learn to truly say amen with a full and open heart.

And, let us all say together…


This is a version of the sermon given by Rabbi Rosenberg on Friday, Aug 29, 2014

Friday, August 1, 2014

Words of Power. Words of Peace.

Words.

I've been thinking quite a bit about words, lately. Last week, I was on a four day silent retreat. It wasn't total silence – there were periods when we were allowed or encouraged to talk, but for large sections of the day we remained in silence. This practice stems from the belief that too many words — whether spoken or listened to — can get in the way of paying attention to what's going on inside of us. Of listening to the internal conversation which happens without words. Even when we spoke, we were encouraged to let our words come out of a place of silence. To listen to that internal conversation, think seriously about what, if anything, we had to say, and also to think about the impact of our words — on others, and on ourselves — before we said them.

You can imagine how hard it was to transition back into the "real world." Going from retreat to the airport can be a bit jarring, to say the least. But, the biggest shock for me came from Facebook. Not the general chatter so much as the seemingly endless stream of posts and articles about the conflict (war, really) in Israel and Gaza. So many people were posting so much, and all of it, it seemed, was so angry. Vicious, even. That's not surprising — what's going on is pretty awful, to say the least. And polarizing.

Also not surprising was that reading those pieces made me angry, as well. Those who spoke out against Israel obviously made me angry. But, the pieces which supported Israel — which pointed out the terrible situation which Hamas has placed them in, which pointed out all the horrific things Hamas continues to do to them — made me angry in a different way. Again, not so surprising.

But, I began to notice that anger wasn't the only, and maybe not the dominant, emotion. There was a terrible sense of sadness, as well. I'm not talking about sadness regarding the situation itself. Let me be clear — there was that sadness, too, and what's going on in Israel is obviously and literally a matter of life and death, and so it's much more important than this other sadness I'm talking about. But, the additional sadness I was feeling came from the realization of how much we all seem to be using our words to hurt, to inflame, to accuse, to anger. And, it came from thinking about the larger effects of those words, about which I don't believe we think enough.

Words always have effects. And words have side effects and unintended consequences. Because, words are powerful. Terribly so.

It's long been one of my favorite insights and lessons from Judaism — the power of words. It's captured perfectly in the Hebrew — Devarim, the name of this week’s Torah portion, means both "words" and "things." We tend to think of words as the least "thingy" of things. They’re ephemeral, less substantial than mist. They’re "just words." Judaism understands that, actually, words are incredibly substantial. Words are things. Despite what we tell our children to say, we have probably all been hurt more by words than by sticks and stones in our lives. That is precisely why we give them that mantra — we know how dangerous words really are. Words are the most powerful devices that most of us will ever wield. 

And, words are one of the most human things about us. One of the terms which medieval Jewish philosophers used for human beings was medabrim—speakers. Makers of words. Words are, to a large extent, who we are. They're certainly how we are seen by others. And, words are how we create ourselves. They are who we will become.

We like to think that words are just there to express what is already inside of us. But, that's not the whole story. Words change us. It's obvious that words which we hear, if taken seriously, can change us. But, words that we speak can change us, as well.

Words spoken in anger don't release that anger, and they don't dispel that anger. They increase it. They rile us up. Words of hate don't just express hate. They reinforce it, and they nurture it. Words express who we are, but they also define who we are going to become. Don't believe me? Try this — go up to someone you love. Tell them what you're about to do and why, so that it's totally safe. Playacting. Then, look at them in the eye and, with all the passion you can muster say to them, "I hate you." Say it like you mean it. Or, at the very least, imagine doing so. How does that feel? Don't tell me that that moment won't affect you. That it won't, at all, damage that other person, and you, and your relationship. That those words can ever be "just words."

Words really are powerful. Words are never just words. They're things.

That's why, since I left the silence of retreat, I been unwilling to post or share almost anything about Israel. Because I just can't stop thinking about the reverberations of those words. I keep asking myself not only do I believe what these words say, not only do I agree with them, but do I want those to be the words coming out of my mouth, even if it's only a virtual mouth? Do I want these words to be the words which define me?

I want to be careful here, because I'm not trying to suggest that we should only ever say nice things. The world is not always a nice place, and there are times for speaking truthfully about that. If our words have power, then we have to be willing to use those words, and that power, sometimes. Our words of support for Israel, and our words of condemnation for Hamas, are part of a larger conversation, and they can have an effect on the world. As someone who believes passionately about the power of Social Justice, about speaking truth to power, and naming evil when we see it, I'm not about to become, and I'm not hoping that you will become, some kind of Pollyanna who refuses to acknowledge, or fight against, the worst of the world. God forbid.

But, sometimes – sometimes — something being true isn't enough of a reason to say it. Let me give one example, to try to make clear what I'm trying to say. Imagine that a leader of Hamas calls for the death of all Jews. I could respond by saying that I hope that he dies, instead. This isn't really a hypothetical example; it's just a simplified version of any number of conversations and articles and posts I've read this past week. And, it's not morally wrong, or dishonest. If I am being totally honest, I do hope he dies, certainly before he can help kill any Jews.

But, what happens when I say that, out loud? When I post it on Facebook? "I hope he dies. I hope he rots in hell." Does my saying that make anyone in Israel safer? Does it make it any less likely that he'll be able to help kill anyone? Maybe, I guess. Maybe a tiny bit. But, what happens to me, when I say it? What happens to the person to whom I say it? We feed our anger and our hate. We become a tiny bit coarser. We become a tiny bit less noble. Maybe we become a little bit less like our ideal selves.

What would happen if I were to say to you, "I hope that man finds peace. I hope that man wakes up, and no longer wants anyone to die." Will it have any effect on him? No, of course not. It won't make him want to kill me any less. It won't make him any more able to kill me. But, again, what will those words, those things, do to me? What would it do to me if I try my best to practice what Rabbi Jill Jacobs, in a blog widely distributed on Facebook this week, calls "Radical Empathy?" What if I try, in every possible situation, to use words of caring? Words of love? Words of peace? What would that do to me? 

Rabbi Israel Salanter once said:
When I was a young man, I wanted to change the world. I found it was difficult to change the world, so I tried to change my nation.  
When I found I couldn't change the nation, I began to focus on my town. 
I couldn't change the town and as an older man, I tried to change my family. 
Now, as an old man, I realize the only thing I can change is myself, and suddenly I realize that if long ago I had changed myself, I could have made an impact on my family. My family and I could have made an impact on our town. 
Their impact could have changed the nation and I could indeed have changed the world.
Yehiyu l’ratzon imrei fi, v’hegyon libi lefanecha, Adonai tzuri v’goali

May the words of my mouth, and the meditations of my heart, be acceptable to You, Adonai, my Rock and my Redeemer.


This is a version of the sermon given Friday night, Aug 1, 2014

Thursday, July 10, 2014

Israeli Society and the Occupation

If you read my posts, or my Facebook feed, it's pretty clear that I am biased when it comes to Israel. I have a pretty clear point of view. I firmly believe that Israel is strongly in the right when it comes to the ongoing conflict with the Palestinian Authority. I firmly believe that the Palestinian people's refusal to accept the right of Israel to exist as a Jewish state is the fundamental reason for the conflict, and that things that Israel has done, such as building and expanding settlements in the Occupied Territories, may exacerbate the situation, but can't realistically be blamed for the existence of the conflict. I still fundamentally believe all of that. But, like I keep saying, I'm trying to keep an open mind, and open eyes, and read pieces and opinions from those who see things differently.

Today, Sarah Posner has a piece up called "The Ghosts and Illusions of the Occupation." I usually disagree with what she writes about Israel--she often seems to blame Israel where I think that Israel is the one being treated unfairly (e.g. she probably thinks that the Occupation is one of the primary reasons for the ongoing conflict). But, this is a piece, along with a few others I've seen in a similar vein, which has important things to say about Israel. Because, even if I'm right, and there's nothing that Israel can do to end this conflict--that no concession or compromise will ever make the current Palestinian leadership serious about a peaceful 2-state solution--that doesn't mean that Israeli society doesn't have some real soul-searching to do:
Sharon Abraham-Weiss, executive director of the Association for Civil Rights in Israel wrote this week, “It is clear that the current tension does not exist in a vacuum. Alongside the complex security situation, Israeli society has undergone a significant shift in recent years where it has become increasingly radical, nationalistic and antagonistic to ‘the other.’”
(Still, though, hope: Elisheva Goldberg reported hundreds of Israeli Jews paying their respects to the mourners for Mohammed Abu Khdeir.)
“The current bleak situation is strengthened,” writes Brooklyn College historian Louis Fishman, “by the fact that there is a total lack of will by the Israeli state to promote co-existence and to educate the Jewish population about the national minority within them, that they too have a legitimate right to the Land. In fact, while the current government plans at allocating money to strengthen Israeli ties with the Jewish diaspora, there are none for creating a safe haven for its non-Jewish citizens.”

Let me beat this dead horse--I firmly believe that if every single Israeli were to simultaneously and sincerely declare their love for Palestinians, it would not end the conflict. I am not blaming Israel for what is happening*. But, that doesn't mean that Israel doesn't have a growing problem with how it views and treats Palestinians, both inside and outside the country. And that doesn't mean that that view doesn't have real consequences.

* And, as an aside, even if you do blame Israel, if you think that makes constant rocket attacks, fired from civilian centers, aimed at civilian centers, a reasonable or "understandable" thing to do, then I think you're pretty far gone, morally speaking.

First of all, there's the issue of how these Palestinians are treated, right now. Especially those who are Israeli citizens deserve, without question, equal treatment. If Arab neighborhoods get worse schooling, worse utility service, worse police protection (and, I'm not sure that they do, but I hear it enough that I tend to believe it), then that's a problem. I don't accept that kind of treatment for minority and/or poor neighborhoods in America, and I don't know why it would be ok in Israel, either.

And, then there's the matter of the future. Even if, like me, you don't think that the conflict is resolvable right now, that doesn't mean that it will never be. Forever is a long time, and I have hope that, even if peace isn't achievable now, even if it's not achievable in my lifetime, that doesn't mean that it's never achievable. Jews and Muslims are similar in that we've both seen that history is long, and what is impossible today seems like it was inevitable, down the road. Our stories attest to the possibility of the impossible. But, if we demonize the Palestinians in the minds of Jews, and if we embitter the lives of Palestinians, giving them reason to demonize us, then we make that future much less attainable.

I always take these reports about Israel's malfeasance with a grain of salt, because they are often later shown to be exaggerated, or unfair, or outright lies. But, sometimes they're true. And while I still maintain that Israel didn't cause this war, it's still in Israel's interest, to say nothing of it being moral, to do whatever it can to help bring it to an end, and to help prevent the next one. You can plant the seeds of peace, even while waging war. It's not easy. But, we are a people who believes in the possibility of the impossible.

Pray for the peace of Jerusalem.

Immigration, and the kindness of Glenn Beck

In a moment designed to confuse liberals like myself, Glenn Beck has decided to show real compassion to suffering children who are here in America illegally.
“We’re going to fill some tractor-trailers with food, with water,” Beck said. “The churches have asked us if we could bring teddy bears and soccer balls, so we’ve loaded up a whole tractor-trailer of nothing but teddy bears and soccer balls. And then I’m going to go serve breakfast and lunch, and I’m going to help unload these trucks, hot meals for 3,000. That’s what we’re doing.”
I'm making light of how liberals like me would usually respond to Beck vs. how most of us will likely view this moment, but it's important to say--kudos to Beck for this kindhearted, generous-of-spirit act. And, for being willing to stand up against those on the right, with whom he is normally aligned, to do this.

But, it's those angry responders on the right that I want to think about for a moment. I've been getting more informed in recent months about the illegal immigrant issue, although I'm still far from an expert. I understand that this is another truly complicated issue. Through a combination of a ridiculous immigration policy and awful enforcement of the laws on our books, we have helped to create a situation where there are millions of people in this country illegally, some of them for years or even decades. Simply declaring amnesty for all of them, even along with a major revision of our laws and enforcement, seems like a refusal to respect the law. I get why people don't like that option. But, at the same time, what can we actually do? Deport millions of people? Look the other way and allow them to continue to exist in a dangerous, often inhumane shadow society? Those aren't real options (or, at least, not options I can imagine us taking seriously). Like I said, this one really is complicated.

But, parts of it don't have to be. Say what you will about adults who decide to come over to America without legal authorization to do so. But, the children they bring with them? They're just children. They're kids, and they're afraid, and they're hungry. Helping them--making them feel just a little bit better--is so clearly a decent, kind, human thing to do that it's hard to imagine anyone could object.

But, of course, there are people who do object.
Everybody is telling me I’m seeing subscriptions down; I’m seeing Mercury One donations down. I’m getting violent emails from people who say, you know, I’ve ‘betrayed the Republic.’ Whatever.
There are people who are so anti-immigration, and so anti-immigrant, that even this simple act of basic humanity is too much for them. Some of them are even leveling death-threats at Beck. Death threats. For bringing food and toys to children.

I don't care if their parents are fascist radical-Islam supporting terrorist rapists who use child-slave-labor. That's the parents. These are kids. If you can't feel sympathy for kids who are suffering, if you hate people who do feel sympathy for kids who are suffering, then something is very, very broken inside of you. This isn't complicated.

I'll end with a quote from Beck:
“When America stops being good, we are no longer able to be great.”

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Israel and Fairness

An old friend of mine complained about my blog post from yesterday. She called it over-simplified and one-sided. She says that rather than pointing fingers, we have to look at what we can do to make the situation better and help to bring an end to this madness. I'm honestly, sincerely, trying to see her point--she is a very smart woman, and she has chosen to live in Israel, so she knows what's going on from a much closer vantage point than I do. And so, I don't take her opinion lightly, and I don't want to dismiss it.

But, at the same time, I have a very hard time seeing it. I have never, ever been an "Israel is always right" person. I know that Israelis have often done terrible, awful things. And--this is very different, and much more relevant--the Israeli government has sometimes done them, as well*. And, some of those actions have surely made peace more difficult to achieve--the expansion of settlements is the obvious example. Some of that expansion can be easily justified (much of it is really just the expansion of already existing neighborhoods into the edge of the territories), but some is pretty clearly an attempt to grab more land and, possibly/probably intentionally, make it harder to ever create a reasonable, secure Palestinian state. So, no, Israel is not blameless.

* I say it's more relevant because I don't think we should judge a society by the actions of its worst members; we should judge it by the reaction of the larger society to those awful actions. 

When a group of Israelis capture and (almost certainly) burn alive an innocent Palestinian teen--that is among the worst, most evil actions I can possibly imagine. I don't have the words to adequately describe my disgust and horror at this, and I'm sick to think that these murderers, in any way, are connected to me or my religion. But, the swift, clear condemnation and pursuit of justice from Israel and the vast majority of the Jewish world says a lot about who we really are. It's a sign, I fervently hope and believe, that we are better than scum who claim to represent us through violence.

But, I don't want to come off as too even-handed here, because I truly believe that being overly even-handed in this situation would be unfair and fundamentally untrue. Yes, Israel has done some bad things, and yes, Israel has done some things to make the situation worse. But they simply can't compare to what the PLO, Hamas and the rest of the Palestinian leadership has done.

I was thinking about my friend's comments a lot last night and this morning, and I was really trying to sit with them, and not dismiss them. And then I came across yet another article which pointed out yet another (not new) inequity. The wider world is so ready to, subtly and not so subtly, blame Israel for so much, but turns a blind-eye what it happening to Israel:
Since the beginning of this year, Gaza terrorists have fired more than 450 rockets on Israel, with about half of them coming since mid-June, when two Hamas terrorists kidnapped and brutally murdered three Israeli teenagers.
Why is it that a majority of the international community only notices when Israel undertakes its sovereign right, and obligation, to defend its citizens? Can you imagine if even one rocket was fired on London, Washington, Paris or Moscow? This is simply intolerable and no country can, or should, tolerate such attacks on its people.
Where is the outrage from the United Nations, which does not hesitate for a moment to call a "special emergency session" on the "Question of Palestine" or pass the umpteenth resolution blindly condemning Israel? But 24 hours after the rocket attacks on Israel started, I am still waiting for even one syllable of condemnation from the UN Security Council, the UN General Assembly or the Human Rights Council.
I admit, it's a bit of a non-sequiter. Talking about how to apportion blame for the underlying conflict is not the same as talking about who is engaging in the conflict in a more legal, moral way. Logically, theoretically speaking, it's entirely possible to say that two groups are equally responsible for a conflict, but only one is fighting fairly. But, I can't help feel that there's a connection here. Israel has been imperfect but, overall, unbelievably right in how it's handled this decades-old conflict.

It offered to exchange the newly occupied territories, just days after they were captured, in exchange for peace. They were unequivocally rebuffed. Several times since, the same fundamental offer was made--Israel would return the territories (often with some alteration and compensation), asking only to be allowed to exist, safely, as a Jewish state. It's always been rejected.

My understanding is that has always been the basic calculus of the situation. Israel would gladly live side by side with a Palestinian State. The Palestinian leadership has never been willing to reciprocate. Is that overly-simplistic? Probably. There's always a lot of nuance and caveats in the real world. But, it might still represent a reasonable summation of the basis for this conflict.

My friend compare the situation to marriage counseling--progress will only be made when each side stops blaming the other, and instead commits to making the changes they need to make. But, is that always the case? To expand the metaphor, if one partner really doesn't have any interest in being faithful, or if one partner is physically abusive, even if the other has done some wrong, can we really say that they are equally responsible for the trouble in the marriage, or that there is anything that the abused partner can, or should, do to make things better?

I know that I'm one-sided on this. And, like I said yesterday, I hate that. I'm deeply committed to seeing both sides of arguments, in almost all situations. And, in my heart, I really am still a liberal peacenik. I want to be able to believe in the prospect of peace, and that if we just find a way to talk and negotiate, we can get there.

But, when Hamas (a partner in the current Palestinian leadership) calls murderous kidnappers "heroes," and sends hundreds of rockets into Israel, deliberately aiming to kill and injure as many civilians as possible, I have a hard time believing that.

Pray for the peace of Jerusalem.

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

My Heart Lies In The East

For some reason, I've had a hard time staying on the blogging wagon. I can't find/make the time to blog much, of late. I was all set to do so--I had some time today, and some good articles about which to comment. And, I'll get to them, soon, because I really do like the give-and-take that I sometimes get from a good blog post.

But, today, they all seem kind of pointless. Because, today, I keep reading about Israel.

Like all of you, I read about the three Israeli teens, killed just because they were Jewish. I read about the Palestinian teen who was killed because Israeli Jews were angry at all Arabs and forgot what it means to be a Jew. I read about a Palestinian teen from Tampa who was assaulted by Israeli security forces, perhaps after he assaulted or threatened them. I read about the rockets flying into Israeli population centers, the protection offered by Iron Dome, and about the Israeli response to these murderous attacks.

There is so much to say, and others are saying most of it so well. But, when I read the terribly unfair, biased, double-standard reporting out there, one basic fact keeps coming back to me.

This war is not Israel's fault.

Israel wants peace. Not every Israeli, of course. But, overwhelmingly. Polls show that, overwhelmingly, the people would choose to live in peace, side-by-side with a Palestinian State. A politician who managed to pull off an honest-to-God land-for-peace deal? She or he would get a street in every city named after them.

But, the leaders of the Palestinian people, and a distressingly large chunk of their population just don't feel that way. Too many of them still only want the peace that comes from seeing all Jews leave the land. The peace that comes from destroying us. A leader who brought that same deal to the Palestinian people would have to fear for his life.

I hate writing this. I hate the fact that what I have to say about Israel comes across as so one-sided. I hate writing in a way which can be perceived as hateful. So, please believe me when I tell you that I am among those who long for a day when the Palestinian people have a vibrant, safe land of their own. They deserve it, and Israel needs it to be so.

But, what I hate even more is that, all of these years later, Golda Meir is still right. There will be no peace until the Palestinians love their children more than they hate us. I pray that day is soon.

Pray for the peace of Jerusalem.

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

A Thought About Gun Control

Another mass shooting, this time out in California. 6 Dead.

Yesterday, two groups get into a fight on Clearwater beach, not far from me, and 2 people got shot in 3 separate shooting incidents.

3 dead in a shooting in Lakeland, a bit east of here.

This morning, I've seen a few posts from the father of one of the CA victims, and the man has an intense, burning anger mixed in with his grief. He's furious that, after all of the previous shootings, nothing has been done--really, basically nothing at all--to try to address the scourge of gun violence in this country. He's convinced that his son is dead because our politicians, either in bed with or afraid of the NRA, did nothing.

Look, speaking from a far calmer, less grief-striken place, I know that the world isn't that simple. There wasn't any law that could have been passed post-Sandy Hook which would have guaranteed that this man's son would now be alive. We can't draw a straight line like that.

But, for God's sake, we haven't even been able to close the gun-show loophole, and institute universal background checks. So many dead children (I can't bring myself to look up the exact number) in Newtown, and not one piece of legislation passed which even attempts to stem the tide (although, there have been plenty of laws passed which expand or protect gun-rights). Which even attempt to make a difference in the right direction. A gun dealer--a gun dealer--received death threats because he had the audacity to try to sell smart-guns. Guns which might--might--reduce gun violence without taking away anyone's right to own a gun.

I really do understand that there aren't simple solutions. Banning "Assault Rifles" is often more of a P.R. stunt than an actual safety measure, because it's so hard to define what, precisely, an Assault Rifle is. Opinions are divided as to whether magazine capacity limits would have any meaningful effect. Background checks can be circumvented in any number of ways. I get it. I really do get it--every proposed law has a problem, a weakness. Many of them have consequences and side-effects that, depending on your point of view, may not be worth the (potentially dubious) benefits of the measure.

But, I'm so tired of hearing that we can't do anything. That anything that we try to do, from outlawing the most dangerous guns, to making guns safer, to trying to keep them out of the wrong people's hands, is always the first step towards a full revocation of our rights and an inevitable slide towards a Nazi/fascist regime which is just dying to take away our guns. That guns are always the solution, and anyone who suggests otherwise is just a Commie Bastard who should stop trying to ruin America.

I hate fanatics of all stripes, and that included gun fanatics. I'm more than willing to defend the 2nd amendment, and your right to own guns. But, those who are firmly in the pro-gun camp have an equal responsibility to engage in sane, adult conversation about how to make our society safer. About how to reduce gun deaths. About how to make our world safer.

About how to keep one more parent from burying a child who didn't have to die.