There is a story of a young rabbi who delivered his entire sermon on Yom Kippur while holding his beautiful baby in his arms. The congregation smiled at the adorable child and he grinned back, charming everyone. At the end of his talk the rabbi stopped, looked out at the congregation and asked the following question: “At what age do we stop cherishing our children? How old are they when we no longer look at them as precious?” He went on to talk about the impact of poverty, discrimination, and simple lack of caring on the teenagers, young men, and even the middle aged in the community.
As we struggle to come to terms with the death of Trayvon Martin and the acquittal of George Zimmerman, I find myself thinking again and again of this story. We can say many things about this case, but ultimately it reflects our failure to treasure and cherish all the children in our communities. Yet even that failure alone would not have taken a life – had George Zimmerman not carried a gun with him when he went out that night, Trayvon would indisputably still be alive. His parents would have their son to cherish, to argue with, to love, and one day his grandchildren as well. George Zimmerman would not have to live forever with the knowledge of what he has done.
NRA leaders tell us that we must protect the right to bear arms. At some point, we will need to decide that our children are more worthy of protection than our weapons.