This Letter Makes This All Worthwhile.
Bright and early this morning I logged on and got my email, and found this (printed here with his permission):
I have been reading your blog for a while, learning about the subjects you write about…and even prior to N. Orleans, I was leaning towards your position, and possibly arming our family.
Can I tell you what a radical departure that is for me? And then maybe why it shouldn’t have been in some ways? I was raised in a religious Jewish household. Religious Jews just don’t hunt; we’re not raised in a culture of guns (outside of Israel, in which this has changed things). I was also a child of the liberal 60’s, thought guns kill and all that nonsense.
My dad, however, was a survivor of Auschwitz. My grandparents were murdered there. And it is now a cliche, but it’s true, the ‘average’ Jew could not defend themselves. So that got me to thinkin…and then seeing how it starts to look like America could end up like many S. American countries, with gated communities and barbed wire or broken glass up on the walls of the compounds…and I used to think this was the siren song of the Cassandras, but New Orleans showed that ain’t necessarily true…well, all this speaks of the need to have some protection.
Of course, we had someone, a rabbi, say in his 30’s, walking in his house, not too far from where we live, and he was mugged by a man with a gun. Fortunately, and almost unusually in these cases, in spite of the fact this rabbi had literally nothing on him, the creep ran without shooting. But this happened basically in MY neighborhood. And all it takes is one occasion (though otherwise, it’s a relatively safe area, whatever that means!).
I can’t think of any reason not to. Child safety? That’s all just TEACHING, like it is with a hundred other lethal things we have inside the house.
I don’t want to go on too long, but I do hope either we’ll travel near someone on your list offering shooting sessions (and yes, I have never shot a gun in my life, never thought I’d think about it, which is the point of all this) or someone will be added to the list close by to home, Saint Louis, MO and I can take ’em up on the offer.
When I emailed him to thank him for the letter and to ask permission to print it, he added this:
You’ve helped me understand a great deal of things I otherwise might not have. I had a lifetime bias against guns…still won’t say I like ’em, but that’s that cultural bias I mentioned, and having one for self-defense is not the same as enjoying killing. (I still have a problem with hunting, but that’s MY BIAS, and I never was opposed to anyone else hunting just because I don’t “get it”. Who am I to tell anyone else to do unless it bothers my life? That seems SO self-evident, but then we grow up and learn it’s not. Half the world wants to rule the other half, or so it seems, and that’s from most politicians down to the petty bureaucrats running health care nowadays ). But self-defense? Yeah, we have the right to that. Another thing that would seem self-evident, but…gosh, dealing with that other 1/2 of the world…).
I figured out I was as bad as some mama bear, when it came to wanting to protect my family. I think I never understood that idea UNTIL I had children. After that, I realized I had an obligation to MY FAMILY. Another simplistic notion, but one that seems to flit by most people (though interestingly, I read that many of the “refugees” from N. Orleans and Mississippi have been taken in by…gasp…family members!).
I couldn’t sleep last night, was reading one of James Lee Burke’s novels, and (start up the Twilight Zone music) he had his character mention that very thing about how the police don’t, can’t prevent most crime, and in fact, how most crime is never punished. It WAS weird that I read it not a couple of hours after I had written you.
On a bigger scale, , I have enjoyed learning about the Constitution, the ideals America was founded on…We drove the kids to Boston some years back and have continued to now take driving vacations literally all over the country. Early one, though, we were in Lexington and Concord, saw the statue of the Minuteman…who had a RIFLE (doh). Just wanting to teach my kids about these things, I started reading myself..and soon found out I knew nothing, like most Americans, about why we started this country.
Put it all together..and I have one other story to tell: When Nixon resigned, my dad cried with relief. Why? He wasn’t an avid Nixon hater at all, but he said, and I remember it like it was yesterday (and my dad’s been gone since ’84), but he thought it was amazing we could have a bloodless revolution, that the rule of law WORKED here, unlike how it had been corrupted in WW2 Europe, and he had a respect and a feeling for America, for its institutions and ideals, that most of us take for granted, or more unfortunately, don’t even understand or know (as we slide farther away from those ideas). It’s that stereotype of immigrants who came here and appreciated freedom, never took it for granted; on my mom’s side, her parents were from Russia/Poland, and my grandfather’s father was murdered in front of my grandad in the 1905 Revolution. So when they came here, same thing as my dad…none of it was taken for granted. We’re in real danger, I’ve come to see, of losing those ideals.
Having said all the above, it’s thanks in large part to blogs such as yours that I’ve learned anything. I’m still learning, economics, political philosophy, Consitutional law, and finding intelligent blogs has been an amazing help.
And I think its important to thank our teachers sometimes, let ’em know we appreciate the efforts. But I wanted to let you know why this is a big deal for me. I realize too, that for most, there is a reason they don’t bother to learn, whether it’s that lifetime of indoctination, the sheep-like attitude of most folks, or even the (somewhat true for a while) idea that ‘ignorance is bliss” (because the more I learn, some days, the more pissed off I am), but I had a need and desire to do so, and I think we all should have SOME obligation to know, otherwise we are screwed.
You know that. I didn’t, but I’m learning.
I’ve had a big smile on my face all day long.