Do something – but what?
On March 30 this paper published an eloquent piece by Rabbi Emily Segal entitled “Enough with thoughts and prayers – do something.” In it, Rabbi Segal is in the grips of what Kant termed a “moral imperative” – in her case a passion for ending the gun violence that has turned our schools into killing fields.
Segal makes much of God’s exhortation to Moses during the Passover narrative, which I’ll paraphrase as, “Don’t just stand there, DO something!” Fortunately, Moses had pretty clear direction about what to do in his situation and, anyway, he didn’t have much time to think about it and second-guess himself.
We, on the other hand, are more like the Jesuit missionaries in 17th-century Japan, featured in the book and movie “Silence,” who also feel the moral imperative to end enormous suffering and killing, but who are afforded only one means of doing so – the act of apostatizing and abjuring Christ, by publicly stamping on his image. Unlike Moses, they hear only God’s silence and are on their own to work out the details of their deliverance, if that’s the right word for it.
Like her fellow marchers for our lives, Segal casts the NRA as the Pharaoh in her Passover analogy, but I wonder if she recognizes that those who defend the Second Amendment do so because, without it, they fear we’d all be living under another kind of Pharaoh. History supports them.
Gun sales soared to record heights throughout the Age of Obama, which evinced a number of totalitarian impulses – the various mandates, for example, that were handed down with Obamacare, including the one concerning contraceptives and abortifacients, which sought to stamp on the exercise of conscience. Other government mandates regarding abortion placed medical personnel in Catholic hospitals in the position of the Jesuit missionaries in “Silence.”
In her final cri de coeur, Segal exclaims, “Not one more. Not one single, precious, holy life more.” Does she recognize that this is the exact sentiment felt and expressed by those who march for life outside of Planned Parenthood – a matter about which I suspect she has a more moderate, considered attitude?
It’s all very complicated, Rabbi. I’m not arguing for resignation and moral passivity regarding anything, but don’t attempt to impose facile “solutions” without assessing their hidden harms.
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