The atrocity in Newtown, Conn., is not merely reflective of a society that is obsessed with guns. More deeply, it is indicative of a deeply materialistic society. The world is in a crisis, having no prevailing spiritual basis to our systems, structures and economies.
By spiritual I do not mean religious, but recognizing the fundamental oneness underlying all that exists and the seeking to express that oneness by serving others and sharing in all that we do. Oppositely, our structures and institutions see people, groups and nations as disunited and, subsequently, value competition and retribution.
Competition creates conflict as individuals, groups and nations compete with each other for a bigger piece of the pie. Likewise, retribution can be seen to permeate social thinking: "get even with them; lock them up and throw away the key; sue them; execute them; bomb them." Often this is euphemistically voiced as "seeking justice." Materialism leads people to see themselves as independent from all else, with no responsibilities to that greater whole from which their life springs; all required to be gladiators fighting for what is theirs - whether individually, or identified with a group (including nationalism) - and wanting payback when things don’t go their way.
Under the pressures of materialism, imbalanced or angry people act out, sometimes in horrific ways.
Firearms are either seen as symbolizing freedom; giving some people a sense of power in a material society where they feel an increasing lack of meaning and power; or fear of one’s neighbors. Both Democrats and Republicans have been reluctant or unwilling to address this obsession.
The Democrats no longer want to be seen as against the Second Amendment.
When a mass shooting takes place their solution is to say, "Now is not the time to be talking about gun control." However, the time never seems to come. And Republicans see gun ownership as a sacred right. Their solution to senseless violence is not to tighten restrictions on owning a gun, but increase gun ownership. After a shooting the very first thing gun advocates say is, "Too bad someone else didn’t have a gun, they could have killed the shooter." It would be like suggesting, as the character of Archie Bunker suggested to audience laughter on the 1970s sitcom "All in the Family," that every passenger boarding an airplane be given a gun to stop hijackings.
However, every case of road rage, bar room fight, domestic disturbance, argument etc., will see a gun being at hand if we accept such a comical solution to such a serious issue. How many thousands of more people would be killed over the course of a year? Today, some politicians feel empowered to suggest that legislation be passed to limit access to high-powered, semi-automatic weapons. However, that is a bandage. It won’t be until society begins to see itself as united beyond color, class, creed, nationality, religion, gender and other petty differences that the underlying reasons for such violence will abate and our obsession with guns will wane. People will have to see the folly of competition and retribution, and demand more justice and fairness, sharing and cooperation from our leaders and lead them to creating better, more just and safe future for us all.