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It is said that where our treasure is, there also will our heart be. In other words, what we value tells us who we truly are. We support what we value by our words and actions. Otherwise, how can we say we value it?

The horrific massacre in El Paso some days ago has brought us to a new high (or low?) of hatred and viciousness, as it specifically targeted a population known to include a large majority of Mexican nationals, American citizens of Mexican birth, and other and Americans citizens of Mexican ancestry who have known no home other than this country.

In our times, it is easy for people of the same mind as the El Paso mass murderer to find support for what they treasure, i.e., a nation of people who look like them, act like them, speak like them, believe like them. They support what they treasure with words and actions aimed (literally) at people who are different. They are aided and abetted by the availability of weapons designed for warfare, and by radicalization via modern information technology.

What will our response be? Simply horror and disgust? As sincere as these feelings may be, they are as weak as water when it comes to bringing real change. What is it that we treasure? If it is a society in which we live (literally) in peace together with reverence for our common human dignity, then we need to support our treasure with words and actions. This includes challenging racial and ethnic prejudice when we encounter it, and it includes re-visiting our thoughts about military armaments in the hands of civilians.

Guns are part of American culture. We hunt. We want to be safe. These are not at issue. The Second Amendment speaks of our right to keep and bear arms. This is often cited to reject regulation of any type of firearm, but this right is articulated regarding a well-regulated militia. This does not seem to be what we have here.

The violence in our society is complex. Some say it is rooted in mental health; others say secularization, still others violent video games. However, we have no more mental illness than other countries; we have a lot more church-going people than most, and we have no monopoly on video game use. Surely, there are many contributing factors to the daily occurrence of mass shootings (more than four victims) so far this year in our country, but the indisputable one is the easy availability of guns, specifically guns designed for use in warfare.

In times past we have discriminated against newcomers as well as well-established minority groups by refusing to hire them or refusing to rent apartments to them. In present times, we kill them.

What is our treasure? What kind of country do we want to live in?

Richard Francesco

Helena

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