Might Makes Right (Or, What Are We Teaching Them?)


Some of my friends and family who are only slightly older than me well-remember the “Duck and Cover” drills that schools conducted in the 1950’s and early 60’s, at the height of the Cold War. What they mostly remember when they talk of those drills is the fear, the feeling of helplessness, the terror that some bogeyman (in that case named “The USSR” or “The Communists” was going to use to press a button or turn a key that would cause a terrible and evil weapon (Nuclear Bombs) to take everything away: their homes, their school, their friends, their lives. Nuclear Bombs. The ultimate weapon of terror.

And so, what were we kids being taught in these drills so long ago?

They were being taught that yes; our enemies could wipe us out. The fact that we would annihilate them at the same time was small comfort. They were being taught that the decisive response to any challenge was a global destruction so awful that no one would ever really dare to try it – we hoped.

Hope can be a fragile thing. So, we prepared for it anyway: we couldn’t be sure that those who had such weapons would be as careful or thoughtful with them as we imagined ourselves to be. And besides, accidents do happen.

And so, how are things different today?

I guess it’s a good thing that we now are worried only about weapons that kill hundreds of thousands of our family, friends and neighbors one at a time instead of in a single flash. But, hope is a fragile thing: children are once again being drilled in how to avoid an unthinkable evil, one that is not activated by a button or key, but by a trigger. Children once again cannot play free from fear. They are once again worried that some evil will take everything away. They once again must always be instantly ready to take cover, to detect and then hide themselves from evil when it suddenly appears.

This time however, we have created these new weapons of terror without any outside help. We’ve done it to ourselves, and are allowing them to spread unchecked through our society. We are even passing laws that allow schoolteachers to carry weapons in class. Our worst enemy is no longer far away, but right around the corner. Our worst enemy is, in fact, ourselves.

So, what are we teaching our children by giving teachers the right to carry weapons in class?

Well, it seems to me that the primary lesson is that the ultimate – and in fact only – way to decide who is right is who has the greatest destructive power at hand. You need to be the one with the biggest, baddest gun if you are to prevail whenever things are not going your way. Might makes right. This is the sort of lesson one hears inside the halls of a dictatorship or totalitarian regime. Having a teacher carry a gun in class is undeniable proof that the only certain way to end an argument is with the threat and even use of extreme violence. …And our children will quickly see and figure this out for themselves, and then act upon it (as some already have.)

This is not a lesson that has a place in a Democratic society like ours. Might does not make right. It cannot, for if it does, then only the person with the biggest weapon will have any say at all in how the society, or the country, is run. No one else will matter. We will be a Democracy no more. we will be a failed Democracy.

It is not a lesson we want to teach our young people, but we sure are! With a vengeance, if recent headlines are any indication.

You can piecemeal my point here to death with various arguments about how guns are so widespread that we need to defend our schools, teachers and students in some way. Or, that “If you outlaw guns, then only outlaws will have guns.”

Such arguments miss the main point, which is that we created this mess – or, more properly, that the men and women we elected to political office have done so, and we continue to allow them to serve even despite their vehement support (or inaction) on this issue.

What a mess.

But, as I’ve already said: it is our mess. We as a nation have bought into the murderous myth that guns are the one and only Constitutional Right that cannot be limited or regulated. And, we are not holding our leaders accountable for their unwillingness or inability to clean up this mess we allowed and even encouraged them to create. That makes us responsible.

Enough have died. Enough children have learned that their fears of a nameless terror lurking around the corner is far more real and present than the threat of nuclear bombs falling from the sky ever was. Enough children and young people have decided that they can take and use that same power for their own ends.

Time to end the madness.

– Pastor Allen


Copyright (c) 2019, Allen Vander Meulen III.

Creative Commons License

This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License.

Author: Allen

A would be historian turned IT Professional who responded to the call to the Ministry, and is now focused on social justice and community service. He is a father of two (ages 30 & 9). He and his wife enjoy life near Boston. You can follow Pastor Allen on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/PastorAllenV/ or on Twitter @allenvm3.

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