Saturday, April 20, 2013

This week from hell

It would be unseemly, I suppose, to feel relaxed and happy after the week we all just experienced, so I hope I can be forgiven for sounding a bit grouchy in my first blog post in over a month. If you don't know, West, Texas is just a hop down the interstate from where I live, and I've stopped there many times to buy delicious Czech pastries. The disaster there on Wednesday has hit this area hard.

Like many people, I have also paid morbid attention to the events in Boston that reached the crisis point last night. The young man whom they cornered, bleeding and defiant, was the same age as my son. I can't even begin to comprehend what drove him to his recent actions.

By far the hardest disaster for me to witness this week, though, was the failure of the United States Senate to vote either for universal background checks on gun purchases or for an outright ban on weaponry that no civilized country can allow people to own. Notice that I said "can," not "should."

Perhaps it was unreasonable to hope for more. Making some progress on gun control, though, would have been an enormous morale boost at a time when the struggle to keep the machinery of death off of college campuses has dominated much of my past teaching term. I could not have coped with that struggle last spring, when the wound from losing Barbara was still raw and my daily teaching round required all my concentration and strength.

At the same time, though, the joy that I take in teaching was a major part of what got me through that incredibly difficult spring and summer. This year, having to work so hard against people determined to bring guns on campus has robbed me of much of that joy. I love teaching so much that I used to assume I would keep doing it until I could no longer physically make it to the classroom. Now I'm wondering if I will have the strength to keep fending off this insanity every two years until I am eligible to retire. This makes me very sad.

I know there are probably few gun rights advocates reading this blog, but to any who are, I have a very simple message. I know you believe that you are working to expand your freedoms. I need you to understand that you are destroying mine. I feel less free than I have felt in a long time, and even the limited freedom I have left seems threatened. We cannot live together in a democracy unless you are willing to compromise. Otherwise, in your efforts to oppose tyranny, you become tyrants yourself.

What I am trying to recover is nothing less than my freedom, my joy in what I do and, most importantly of all, my country. I care about those things too much to give them up. I've heard all your arguments. Please listen to mine.