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Tragedy in Tucson: Some other observations based on Tom Smiley's letter.
The young hero, Joseph Zimudie, was armed at the time of shooting, but did not use his weapon in his restraint of the shooting suspect. He has been quoted as saying he didn't need to draw it because the shooter was reloading (reminding us that even in such circumstances restraint and good judgment are possible) and that there were many people running around in a chaotic situation (reminding us that the use of weapons by concerned citizens is potentially just as dangerous as the use by the criminal). So the conclusion that the fact that Zimudie was armed prevented further tragedy is both illogical and factually wrong.
The "tone" of political debate in our country is, for the vast majority, entirely too rude and uncivil on both sides. The left has relied mostly on sarcasm and mockery and the right has relied on anger and volume. Neither of these is likely to lead to rational policy making which balances the needs of all citizens in a thoughtful manner.
Dr. Smiley's repeated message that we should not give up strongly principled beliefs for unity sounds wonderful. But he lives in a country of more than 300 million with a level of diversity of faith, ethnicity and culture that requires our working together for unity so that we do not tear one another, and the nation we love, apart.
Finally, I would note that in all the gospels, Christ and his disciples were unarmed. They too lived in a dangerous time. Note the everyday tone of the parable of the Good Samaritan in which a traveler encounters bandits on the road. Christ could have told a story in which the Samaritan is carrying a knife or a club and defends himself, beating off the robbers and escaping unharmed, but He did not. Christ could have used His fame and His power to form an army to defeat the oppressing Romans, as so many expected from the Messiah, but He did not.
In the many instances in the Gospels and in the Epistles of Paul where Christ or his followers are confronted with violence and have the opportunity to respond in kind, they do not. In the lone instance where a disciple responds with violence, at Christ's arrest in Gethsemane, Christ orders him to stop.
Perhaps kindness and love and faith will not suffice in the face of violence, but I see little evidence that more guns or more visible guns will solve problems our society faces any more successfully.
Ronald A. Walker