Three years ago this month, December 15th, to be exact, I wrote in these pages of 5550opinions, calling on then President Tanaka, whose theme was “Peace Through Service” to use that theme and our “Peace” focus to make a statement decrying the massacre of innocent children at Sandy Hook Elementary School. But of course Tanaka didn’t have the courage, or the wisdom to do so.
And so where are we 3 years later? We are nearly 100,000 deaths later from acts involving multiple victims and nothing, and I mean NOTHING has changed. Rotary America puts its head in the sand and says to its self ‘This is too political for us to deal with’; ‘We may lose too many members’; ‘We can’t afford it!’ and so on.
I say that is pure ignorance, pure hypocrisy, and pure fear of the unknown.
What a shame, because deep down former and many current Rotarians, were and are among the bravest, most humanitarian, most caring men and woman on the planet. They had the courage to dream the impossible. They dreamed of a world without polio, and they set in motion an action plan to eradicate that killer and maimer of children and adults.
Now 25 years later Rotary, in cooperation with other global institutions, is within sight of attaining that goal. And make no mistake about it; that decision had plenty of political consequences as those who died administering the polio vaccine and now lie in solemn testament.
So too, it is a decision that radically changed the very nature and direction of Rotary forever.
But what has changed since the Newtown massacre of innocents in December 2012? Regrettably, nothing has changed, except the place and the number.
Today it is San Bernardino where last Wednesday afternoon, 14 were slain, & 21 wounded. That just 5 days after a whack-job fundamentalist loner shot up a Colorado women’s health clinic that performs abortions — killing three, wounding nine. And to boot we also learn that there have been more mass killings in America to date, than there have been days in the year to date.
Can anyone truthfully say, as the numbers above illustrate, that guns in America are under control?
As mentioned, with justifiable pride above, Rotary has raised and spent over a billion dollars to slay, the natural epidemic Polio, because it kills and maims children and adults.
Hummm, isn’t that what guns do? Today December 4th, the New York Times printed an editorial on its front page for the first time in 95 years. It was titled “End the Gun Epidemic in America” . Note the term “epidemic”. It is a medical term, the same one that we use to describe polio.
If we had a serum to prevent the killing and maiming of children and adults by guns wouldn’t that make a whole lot of sense for Rotary to promote, just the way it has for Polio? That wouldn’t be about controlling guns; no one would be prevented from owning a gun but the serum would prevent guns from at least killing and maiming other human beings.
There is, of course, such a serum; it comes in a number of forms and is often called a “smart gun” because it can identify its owner and only permits that person to fire it. It can also be created so that it only fires under certain safe conditions because it has sensors that read its surroundings.
Neither system is gun control in the sense that Americans have come to know and fear. Both serums are a means of keeping American society safe in the presence of an epidemic of violence involving guns.
At the time of the Newtown tragedy, had such serums been in place, and had the guns been stolen as claimed, they would not have worked and those little ones and their teachers would be alive today.
To be quite frank, if you cannot, as an individual Rotarian, accept such a parallel ‘medical’ miracle as an antidote to guns killing and maiming, by supporting a Rotary initiative to make America and the World a safer, healthier place to live, work and play, then we as Rotary International should be glad to say good-bye and good luck.
I also happen to think that should Rotary do such a promotion, including raising funds to educate, promote and even subsidize the installation of such safety features, the publicity would generate so many new members that they would outnumber the leavers by a wide margin.
So let’s, right now, put a stop to the ignorance, the hypocrisy and the fear and “Just Do It!”