Growing up in the Washington DC area was idyllic. The most romantic date cost absolutely nothing. We drove to the Lincoln Memorial, parked right in front of it. Walked up the stairs to the exquisite statue of Abraham Lincoln and took a seat on the marble floor and gazed out at the flickering lights of the JFK memorial in the distance. No police. No Army. No guards. No boulders blocking access. No fear.
No college students were being gunned down on campuses. No civilians were being slaughtered in movie theaters. No high school students were being mowed down by fellow students. No drive-by shootings as gang initiations. No riots were being orchestrated against the police. The police were feared. The teachers were respected. People went to church. Institutions and the “system” was respected. Parents stayed married… there was order. No more.
Brought up in a staunch Democratic home, I remember the meetings for “Adlai Stevenson for President” held in our living room. Good Democrats did not believe in the right to own personal arms. It would endanger the family and put guns into the hands of the wrong people. Only Republicans believed that gun ownership was valid, but they were the “other” so we were right and they were wrong.
Times have changed around the world. I live in Jerusalem and for the first time in my life, I understand what I did not comprehend before:
The police cannot protect us from evil. There are not enough police in the world to do that. I have met with them on multiple occasions and they make promises to patrol where I live, give us their personal phone numbers and placate us. They would like to do what they promise, but it is not possible. We rarely see them walking our sidewalks, and their phone numbers never answer. They are only human. The raw truth is that the police are limited beings, just like us. They do their best. It is not enough. In Jerusalem, when there is unrest, the army comes to help. When we had riots in Los Angeles, the army was called out to protect the police and firefighters, not to protect the citizens.
The “Rodney King Riots” traumatized those of us living through them. For the first time chaos ruled our city. Citizens plundered, robbed, burned shopping centers for fun. Democracy only works when the people want it to and are prepared to defend it. Watching anarchy in my city was terrifying and heart breaking.
The world has changed and attitudes must change along-side. When a member of our family announced that he had purchased a gun to protect his wife and children, I was not happy. He explained that crime is rampant in their city’s drug infested environment and that he had no option. I said nothing. Adults make choices. He made his.
Now we in Israel are witnessing Arab teenagers encouraged to take knives and stab innocent Jews throughout the country. It does not end with knives. They also have guns and murder innocents in their cars. They also have vehicles that they use as weapons to mow down innocents standing at bus stops or congregated on the streets. In Israel, a large percentage of the population is armed. Thank G-d. The perpetrators of these horrific acts are stopped by the guns of passers- by. Without that, the carnage would be beyond control. The world looks on and says we should arrest the perpetrators and clog up our courts with their trials. They don’t deserve the system that they denigrate. Justice is swift and final. In the meantime, thousands more citizens have applied for gun licenses to protect their families in Israel. The process is far more complicated than in most U.S. states. They must take courses and pass examinations in order to qualify. It takes time, effort and self control. Criminals buy their arms through black markets like elsewhere in the world at large.
Mr. Obama was on television this week spouting his philosophy that civilians should not have hand guns. It rang hollow. Half of American homes have guns already. All the criminals have guns. It is similar to the cold war with Russia. Only when each citizen is afraid of the other, will order and respect be restored and crime will begin to abate. Not every Arab teen wants to die for Allah. When they see that they will definitely perish after they murder innocents…many (but clearly not all) , will reconsider.
“The right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness” are words so ingrained in the American child, that one rarely stands back to think to reflect upon them. They clearly mean that individuals do not have the right to impose their passions, philosophies and religions on others. It means that life to be enjoyed must be free of the fear that you will be hated for being yourself and having your own way of life. It definitively means that you have the right to defend your very survival against those who wish to destroy order for whatever reason. When the words were originally written they were a statement of the citizen’s rights against a tyrannical government. It also applies to our rights against a violent populace.
Ultimately, the system has failed America. What lies ahead with the goals of I.S. and their brothers, does not bode well for the future of the USA and Europe. Israel is facing the demons now. Europe is awakening as we speak. America slumbers still.