This post should have been put up yesterday on Martin Luther King Day. But, I wavered, because I don’t discuss politics on this blog & because I’ve struggled to find the right thing to say about the shooting in Tuscon. Hopefully, my instincts will guide me right.
I carry a knife. Not a large one, just a multi-blade pocket knife. When I was younger, I was fascinated with my father’s & wanted one of my own. Then, as I got older, I thought that, as a girl, it would be good to have some small way to defend myself on hand. The story behind my love of knives is a complicated one, but I will say this. Holding one gives me a sense of security & completion like nothing else. Whenever I marvel at the lengths some people will go to for their guns, I call up this feeling as a comparison.
So, try to imagine my reaction when I discovered the following fact. When I read Hampton Sides’ Hellhound On His Trail for review, I relearned just how deeply Dr. King was committed to pacifism. Sides writes:
[King] did not believe in bodyguards, certainly not armed ones. No one in his entourage was allowed to carry a gun or a nightstick or any other weapon. The very concept of arming oneself was odious to him–it violated his Gandhian principles. He wouldn’t even let his children carry toy guns.
I remember being amazed the first time I read this paragraph. Not only did Dr. King’s consideration extend to toys, but he chose to continue in his pacifism, despite death threats & a earlier attempt on his life. I do not consider myself a violent person, but I’m not foolish enough to think that I am above it. That tingly feeling I get when I hold my knife is proof of that.
The very simple fact is that in the wake of the Tuscon shooting (& in truth after any violent event), we all need to hold ourselves accountable for our inherent destructive impulses. It’s easy to point fingers; it’s hard to reflect on our own flaws. For all the calls of toning down rhetoric or “integrating” where our political parties sit or defending who did what, gun sales went up in the days after the shooting. After a senseless slaughter, people went out & spent money to buy more weapons. Am I alone when I say that news makes me physically ill?
In honor of those killed by violence, including Dr. King, now at this sensitive time, I would ask people to not only to be bold enough to disarm themselves of their weapons, but of their hateful speech, their cruel actions & their ignorant viewpoints. No one is ever going to be perfect, but it doesn’t help matters if we continue on without stopping to question what we can do differently in our own personal lives.