In saying, “These are mother and brothers and sisters to me,” with a sweep of his hand, Jesus transformed his followers into his family members. In a patriotic mood we might want to look upon our fellow Americans as members of one big family, but what freezes out such sentiments is the realization that we have become a gun culture. Random slaughter is commonplace. There were 12 killed and 58 wounded this time in Colorado. At Columbine it was 13 killed and 21 injured. A week ago a man with an assault rifle gunned down seventeen people in an Alabama barroom.
In teaching school a few years ago I came to read about a dangerous time in China six centuries before Christ when the weapon of choice was the long sword. Each of China’s small kingdoms had heroic swordsmen, and a noble code governed their encounters. Then, one kingdom brought in Mongolian horses, and their knights found that without dismounting they could fill their saddlebags with heads. Other kingdoms invested in training mounted knights, they all began equipping their horses with extra saddlebags. Leaving home at all became so dangerous for people that they stopped coming together at markets and schools.
With society in collapse, various theories were advanced for bringing China back to life. In the end, it was the teaching of Confucius that succeeded. He said people had to get back to developing five essentials of civilization. He said they had to develop: 1. Good hearts, 2. Open hearts, 3. Proper relationships, 4. Artistic appreciation, and 5. Moral power. (In an age when only kings and judges had chairs, Confucius explained moral power by saying, “The one thing you cannot do with a sword is sit on it.”)
By instilling habits of moral behavior between family members, fellow citizens and schoolmates, China brought back its markets and schools. However, the teachings of Confucius had a blind spot in that it fostered no moral behavior towards strangers. That lack allowed for cheating customers and enslaving foreigners. For fixing up our world we will need to go beyond Confucius by encouraging all God’s children to treat each other as kinfolk. "Pistol packing Mama, lay that pistol down."
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