In The Wizard of Oz, the children’s tale and famous movie, our four heroes all want something from the great Wizard. Dorothy wants to go home. The Lion wants courage. The Scarecrow wants a brain, and the Tin Man wants a heart. Today, it seems that we all need a heart. We need empathy.
The Land of Canaan
This is really a small strip of land on the eastern Mediterranean. This piece of land is mentioned in the Torah. This land is mentioned in the Bible. This land is even mentioned in the Koran. After World War II, an area was carved out of this land to create the state of Israel. Israel is surrounded by Lebanon and Syria to the north, Jordan to the east, and Egypt to its south. The Mediterranean Ocean is to its west.
On October 7, Hamas, a Palestinian militant group funded by Iran, based in Gaza, attacked Israel on multiple fronts. They launched rockets (over 3,000 of them). They used paragliders to get deep into Israeli territory. They used cars, trucks, and motorcycles to attack outlying Israeli communities. They even attacked a military base. They killed men, women, and children. They killed Israeli soldiers as well as police officers.
The purpose of the attack was to cause chaos and panic. They killed over 1,300 Israelis. They also took over 200 people hostage. Then, they disappeared back into Gaza.
The Israeli response was predictable. They vowed to destroy, eliminate, and extinguish any remnants of Hamas. For the next 2-½ weeks, Israel bombed and shelled northern Gaza. This was followed by a slow and methodical ground invasion. Millions of people have been herded from the north to the south. There has been a small humanitarian corridor opened between Egypt and Gaza, but only a few trucks of humanitarian aid have entered Gaza. This is allowing some small fraction of the aid that is truly needed.
This is a disaster of epic proportions. Most Americans would agree that Israel has a right to exist and has a right to defend itself. On the other hand, it seems to me that Palestinians have a right to freedom and autonomy as well. However, the stated goal of Israel is to eliminate Hamas.
Don’t know how you do that? I have no idea. I know we tried to eliminate the Taliban 20 years ago. How did that work out?
The reality is that it is nearly impossible to eliminate a group of militants who blend in with the local people. This is a fact. Think of the Viet Cong during our war in Vietnam. Unless you’re willing to eliminate all the local people, every last one of them—and that’s called genocide—I don’t know how you eliminate only the militants. According to some estimates, there have already been over 8,000 Palestinians killed.
How many of them were militants? How many were innocent bystanders? How many of them were families in the wrong place at the wrong time? How many of them were in “safe shelters” where they had gone for refuge?
I don’t know, and I doubt any government knows, either. What I do know is this: If you have a heart, if you have empathy, it seems like we must pray for and work for peace.
Another Mass Shooting
A 40-year-old American went into a bowling alley and then into a bar. (No, this isn’t a joke.) He opened fire and killed 18 people and wounded another 13. The weapon used appears to be an AK-47. The perpetrator had a psychotic break of some sort.
Sooner or later, we have to say enough! We’ve seen enough shootings and gun violence in this country. We need universal healthcare. We need more psychologists and psychiatrists. We need more mental health institutions. With universal healthcare, people who are struggling can get the help that they need.
And there are simply too many guns. They are too easy to obtain.
We need stricter gun laws. We need better background checks. There should be a 14-day waiting period. We need to reinstate the assault weapons ban. We need to be able to keep guns out of the hands of people who are struggling with severe mental illness.
This shouldn’t be hard. This is not a slippery slope. I have no desire to take everybody’s gun. I simply want to make America a safer place. I would like to live in a country with less gun violence. We need better mental health therapy.
If you have a heart… if you have empathy, you know we must fix our gun violence problem. People who love guns and people who hate guns need to come together. We can figure this out!