A Christmas season stained

Dec 27, 2012 By Betty Starks Case

Wasn't Christmas Day 2012 a glorious one in Wyoming? Fresh snow lit up the countryside just as we dreamed it might, just as the songs portray.

Yet in the background, shadows linger -- dark and haunting shadows.

A newspaper space that usually shows cartoons to lighten our hearts, this year on Dec. 23 showed Santa sitting at a table with his head in his hands. Six little elves stand a few feet away as one explains, "There's only one present he'd like to give Newtown. But he can't."

Despite the shining Christmas trees in our living rooms and gaily wrapped gifts hugging the trees, a huge lump filled our throats and brought tears to our eyes.

The image of toys, candles, and flowers piled high in Newtown, Conn., in memory of the 20 murdered little children and their loved teachers bursts into view on the television screen. The world sends whatever they feel moved to offer in sympathy. Many burn candles, and remember.

Despite all efforts to compensate, the fact remains: 20 little children have been murdered less than two weeks before Christmas, along with six teachers -- wives and mothers.

Owners of assault rifles and high capacity gun clips appear to react more in fear for themselves than in thought for lost lives.

"More guns," they insist. "If you're not armed, you're part of the problem."

A television reporter asks, "What are you guys so afraid of? What in the world are you so afraid of?"

And I wonder: Might firearms represent manhood to many, whether they realize it or not?

I haven't heard this question put forth by anyone yet, but clearly, we need to search all possible human explanations to find the solution to this problem.

Recognizing the tendency of many males to fight when they disagree, here's the response of this sad and angry female: High-powered semi-automatic killing machines do not a real man make. No more than Axiron in your armpits, ingested Cialis, or Andro-gel applied to your parts make you a real stud.

Instead, how about tuning in to the reason for this season you've so sadly ruptured with your refusal to civilly discuss a way to make us all better human beings?

The man whose birth we celebrate at Christmas did not own a weapon other than his short life. I suppose an assault weapon owner's response would be that he might have lived longer if he had. But the end result is that this man is wider known, more loved, more admired and trusted by both male and female than any other man in history.

And in this famous and infamous season of 2012, more people celebrate him than all the gun jockeys in the world can ever garner to follow them in fear.

My mother, a widely loved fourth-grade teacher with an eternal sense of right and fairness, was born Dec. 20. Remembering her birthday in the midst of this unfathomable slaughter, I can't help thinking how her heart would be aching for the children, how her gentle nature would erupt in disgust at men defending a type of weapon that continues to kill so many innocents.

In her memory, I suggest that this country remember that we are, after all, a democracy. That means by our very numbers, we get to determine how our population will respond to a problem.

Therefore, if there are, as we're told, 4 million National Rifle Association members promoting assault weapons in civilian hands, then shouldn't the remaining more than 260 million Americans have an opportunity to vote or say "no?" Isn't that what our elected representatives are for? And shouldn't those representatives carry out our wishes as directed?

Today, positive signs emerge in ever larger numbers.

In a televised memorial for the deceased at the Newtown massacre, leaders of various religious organizations, often in disagreement before, now come together, link arms, minds, and messages to set an example of sharing and understanding for the good of all.

In Tulsa, Okla., an anonymous giver drops his/her annual gold coin into the Salvation Army kettle; a donor pays off $8,600 of layaways in a West Virginia Kmart; and more than 200 layaway orders at Toys R Us stores in Florida are paid off by anonymous contributors.

Television's Ann Curry alerts endless response with her suggested "26 acts of kindness."

Around the world, countries respond in horror and sympathy to the Newtown massacre of children and teachers. Despite frequent criticism, much of the world still wants to see America as President Reagan envisioned it, "A shining city on a hill," a nation of hope and freedom. Don't we all need such a land somewhere?

Looks like the physical response is up to us in 2013.

Our history demands we do it together.

America, let's roll!

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