Tuesday, February 20, 2018

I'm with the kids....

Peace-William Strutt 1896  
In the public domain
Family Print brought from England
     I've been thinking about this William Strutt work, Peace.
    The framed print above is one of my earliest memories. It hung in the entrance hall of the three story house shared by my widowed grandmother and her sisters; a widowed aunt, and two additional aunts and their husbands. The women were English, and the two uncles were Scots. As the lone child in the lively hub, I found fascination and retreat in the print. Peace was a psychological icon and it is a lodestone.
      Seeing the Parkland kids with their direct and honest confrontation of "business as normal" has been a catharsis. A dread that our current low information, bully populism was a trap door to bad getting worse is now tempered by our children calling our BS. 
     Children mobilized, because of the slaughter of their friends, is not the back story we'd expect but it leads now to a hope. The Strutt is therapeutic. 
     Peace hypnotized me. I remember standing on a stool, staring at it, endlessly. 
     It is frequently called "And A Child Shall Lead Them" and that leads back to the kids. 
    I presume I am one of millions who hope children are  leading us now, the children of Parkland Florida and the school children of America who are walking out, marching, protesting and challenging the hypocrisy and prostitution of elected officials. They lead in naming names of house and senate members who are on the payroll of the NRA, calling out trump for rescinding an Obama administration regulation that made it more difficult for people with mental illness to get guns.
     A theological note; Strutt's painting is based on words from Isaiah, "the wolf shall dwell with the lamb, and the leopard shall lie down with the young goat, and the calf and the lion and the fattened calf together; and a little child shall lead them."
     People have diverse interpretations of its meaning. Strutt had his own of course, depicting the verse and calling it Peace. I like that.
     But I've always favored the idea of the innocence of a child as being a model for how to live and believe. An important pronouncement for followers of Christ is to protect and revere children and to adopt a child like purity of mind and belief, "for the Kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these." 

     After each mass slaughter there is a public outcry. There was a moment when it appeared members of the House and Senate were listening. Congress was poised to tighten laws and do something constructive, but then, as always, Wayne La Pierre and his cultural terrorists go to work. Big money gets pumped into PACs and politicians, who are threatened with "primarying" if they don't do the NRA's bidding. There is an abundance of spineless, cowardly weasels to tumble to the NRA once again.
     Once more the NRA and La Pierres's finger prints are on the mass shooting. They've distorted and propagandized the Second Amendment. The NRA is really only a marketing force and lobby for the gun makers and sellers. They are a big reason why 17 more victims have been claimed and while we will likely see another Parkland, Columbine, Sandy Hook, Marysville, Rancho Tehama, Santa Monica, Virginia Tech, Red Lake, West Nickel, Northern Illinois, Umpqua Community College, Oikos University in Oakland, and this is only a partial list of just school shootings. If you wish you can compute your own list of mass shootings in total. 
      Mr. LaPierre, how many of these victims do you take responsibility for? How many more bodies do you and the NRA desire to see?
     The child in the Strutt, and the children who lost friends tell us there is a better way. We should listen and get out of their way and let them lead.
a pause for beauty

   See you down the trail.


  1. My daughter Kristen is the director of counseling at an "examine in" 7-12 school in Santa Cruz. After the parkland story broke last week, the principal asked her to make an announcement to the students. She opened with, "We love you." At noon she went outside and sat under a big tree on the campus and listened to her students talk for an hour then spent the afternoon and most of the next day doing one on ones. She told me the most important thing was to let them talk and for her to listen.

    1. A wonderful story about a caring adult helping our precious future in these horrible times. You are no doubt proud of the work she does. Thanks for sharing.

  2. A useful definition of capitalism is that property and money (ie, capital) take precedence over human needs and human life. Prime example: NRA and its marketplace of guns VS the lives of children.

  3. Extraordinarily sensitive and caring words, Tom.

  4. That's an unforgettable image. The kid alone has some sort of haunting quality that strikes a chord.

    I suppose that when children speak up about getting shot, we've finally reached a point where we won't hear, from those in charge, "There are some good people on both sides."

    It's a crime that it's taking this to get even a little bit of change accomplished in this area, but... it looks like maybe, just maybe, it might.

    1. I'm with you in seeing this as the beginning of a change, but how awful we have to endure such tragedy first.

  5. Great column, Tom. I'll join the conversation once the flu has passed on (and not me).

  6. I am committed to supporting this movement of change that is building across the reminds me of what we did in the Viet Nam war....when young people said enough....we are calling bullshit on the "adults" running this government...we took to the streets, we spoke out, we held feet to the fire and we did not stop until the tide began to can be done....I know it and I am putting my money on these smart, articulate and battered youth...NO CHILD SHOULD BE AFRAID TO GO TO SCHOOL.

    1. Amen! It is time for the decent and traditional soul of the American body politic to take control. Time for the extremists, bullies, and money worshipers to be gone.