The ONE sure way to stop future school killing atrocities – NOT with sissy promises of “thoughts and prayers”

As a spiritual theologian who has written at length on prayer and spirituality and on the mystics and prophets who know something about prayer, I am sick and tired of the insult that is hurled at prayer every time a politician stands up to shed tears over gun violence in schools (or night clubs or concerts or churches, etc. etc) while behind the scenes he is in bed with the NRA.

Yes, I mean you, Governor Scott; Yes, you, Marco Rubio; Yes, Paul Ryan; Yes, President Trump.  Yes, Yes to all you sissies who as are as deceitful and full of lies (such as “I love my children and grandchildren and fear for them in school”) as you are of sentimental piety feigning as religion.

You are sissies because you are afraid of losing your job and your status, i.e. your next election, should you dare to have the courage (yes, the balls) to stand up to the NRA.

(By the way, is it true that Putin & Co. illegally funneled money through the NRA to help the Trump (1) campaign in the last election?  We citizens would like Congress to research that fact ASAP to help save what is left of our democracy.)

You NRA puppet politicians, thanks to the investigative work of Bess Kalb (among others, the and watchdog journalists at the L.A. Times and at the New York Times and Fortune), facts are out about where your first love lies.(2)   It is not with children of America, nor with their parents and grandparents, siblings and relatives, who are in mourning and will grieve the rest of their lives for their young ones gunned down by American citizens armed with military weapons altogether legally (thanks to you and your political priorities).

Let us review the facts that Bess Kalb and these others have gathered–as opposed to the sick, sentimental, religious pieties–around gun control in America among our so-called political leaders who, being moral midgets and religious hypocrites, think we citizens are so stupid that we are impressed by your crocodile tears and pseudo-religious mutterings about “thoughts and prayers.”

Hypocritical prayers are not prayers.  They are lies.

Fact # 1: Marco Rubio, senator from Florida, voted against banning assault weapons and has received $3,303,355 from the NRA and holds a A+ rating in backing NRA over the years.

Fact #2: President Trump received $21,000,000 from NRA for his presidential campaign.

Fact # 3: Senator Rob Portman of Ohio received $3,061,941 from NRA.

Fact # 4: The Republican Party headquarters received $17,385,437 from NRA in the 2015-2016 election cycle alone.

Fact # 5: Senator Joni Ernst of Iowa received $3,124,273 from NRA.

Fact # 6: Senator Thom Tillis of North Carolina received $4,418,012 from NRA.
Etc, etc, etc.

These people and the many like them have blood of children on their hands.  But they do not stand alone by any means.

Each Supreme Court judge who voted for Citizens United has the blood of these children massacred in Florida (and the eight other school shootings since Jan 1, 2018 and those before)(3) on their hands too for buttressing a system that reduces a so-called democracy to pay and play and give corporations like the NRA the right of personhood and along with it so much more power over the choice of voting citizens.

It is not enough to just blow the whistle on the hypocrisy of these politicians and judges and their calling for “thoughts and prayers,” insulting as that is to people who actually pray and think.  The cause of this pathological culture is obviously the gluttony for money and the power it can buy in a so-called democracy that is no longer a democracy but an oligarchy of the rich (and those who are desperate to serve the power holders to save their political skins).

The one solution to gun violence is a constitutional amendment that disavows money in elections.  We need public funding of our elections to send the NRA and all other corporations slinking back to doing what they consider their jobs. It’s time they quit making whores (not to insult sex workers, I apologize to them) of our politicians.  This means that Citizens United must be repealed—and Yes, we must call out the Supreme Court judges led by Chief Justice John Roberts for passing that abysmal legislation and see to it that the NRA does not choose our judges in the future by buying off the politicians who give them their positions.

Common sense gun laws that render military weapons unavailable to non-military persons and that are favored by an overwhelming Americans cannot happen until the entire sick money-driven political system in America is dismantled in favor of public funding that thereby eliminates the capital that is swamping voting.

According to the brilliant study by historian Nancy MacLean, Democracy In Chains: The Deep History of the Radical Right’s Stealth Plan for America, the goal of the radical right (read NRA and Koch brothers, et al) is “to save capitalism from democracy—permanently.” Theirs is “a quest to ensure the supremacy of capital”(4) and this comes about not just by changing our politicians or who rules and makes decisions but by changing the rules.  Which is of course where lawyers and courts and judges come in, abetted by legislators. The sum total of this political movement and its “shrewd long game” — which has been in progress for decades and is reaching a climax in today’s version of the Republican Party –it is “a return to oligarchy” where power and decision making is concentrated in the hands of the few.  Not government of the people, by the people and for the people, but government of the few, by the few, for the few and of corporations, by corporations and for corporations (NRA among them).

But the few who are most financially powerful are not the only ones who can change the rules.  
That is what a movement to add a constitutional amendment to get money out of elections can also do.  A movement of the many, those many who still believe in or yearn for a government of, by and for the people.

One hopeful sign emerging from the carnage in Florida school shooting is the wisdom of the teenagers of the school who are calling on Congress to do something and quit insulting their intelligence with appeals to so-called “thoughts and prayers.” Let the young lead this crusade to dismantle money on our politics!  Let them lead the march to congressional offices and to the social media—let the moral outrage of the young awaken the tired cynicism of our fat politicians and cynical Supreme Court judges who are willing to sell not only the young but whatever is left of our democracy down the drain for a pat on the head from NRA and Koch brothers and their ilk.

The young were leaders in that moral revolution called the Civil Rights movement.  They filled the jails; they manifested both courage and generosity for a value that mattered.  Let them lead this new moral revolution as well.

The late monk Thomas Merton wrote over fifty years ago the following observation about guns in America.

Man begins in zoology
He is the saddest animal
He drives a big red car
Called anxiety….
Whenever he goes to the phone
To call joy
He gets the wrong number
Therefore he likes weapons
He knows all guns
By their right names
He drives a big black Cadillac
Called death….(7)

It is the lack of joy, the dominance of cynicism, the omnipresence of anxiety, the scarcity of love and of meaning that ultimately leads us to love affairs with guns and with death.

This too is work that needs doing.  Are there politicians and would-be politicians out there who want to put love first?  Like the hero teachers did at the Florida high school in taking bullets for their students?  Who are willing to put biophilia before necrophilia?  Life before death?  Love before hate?  Joy before cynicism?

We are waiting for you—not to lead but to follow the grass roots revolution that is coming.
Matthew Fox, PhD, is author of 35 books on spirituality and culture that have been translated into 69 languages.  His most recent books are A Way To God: Thomas Merton’s Creation Spirituality Journal and Meister Eckhart: A Mystic-Warrior For Our Times.  See www.matthewfox.org.

Read Matthew Fox’s follow-up article: Some Lessons Learned from Employing the “S” Word

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[1] https://www.cnbc.com/2018/02/15/nra-russia-and-trump-money-laundering-poisoning-us-democracy-commentary.html
[2] https://www.local10.com/entertainment/jimmy-kimmel-writer-bess-kalb-slams-senators-prayers-for-florida-shooting; http://www.latimes.com/business/hiltzik/la-fi-hiltzik-nra-politicians-20180215-story.html; https://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2017/10/04/opinion/thoughts-prayers-nra-funding-senators.html; http://fortune.com/2018/02/15/nra-contributions-politicians-senators/
[3] https://www.theguardian.com/world/2018/feb/14/school-shootings-in-america-2018-how-many-so-far
[4] Nancy MacLean, Democracy In Chains: The Deep History of the Radical Right’s Stealth Plan for America (NY: Viking, 2917), xxxi.
[5] Ibid., xxviii, xxxii.
[6] https://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/florida-high-school-students-stage-walkout-to-protest-gun-violence_us_5a87067be4b004fc3191a117
[7]Thomas Merton, The Collected Poems of Thomas Merton (NY: New Directions, 1977), 624-626. Cited in Matthew Fox, A Way To God: Thomas Merton’s Creation Spirituality Journey (Novato, Ca: New World Library, 2016), 178.

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