Rowan Williams who is soon to leave office spoke out on a BBC radio program, “Thought for the Day. Here’s an excerpt:
And there is one thing often said by defenders of the American gun laws that ought to make us think about wider questions. ‘It’s not guns that kill, it’s people.’ Well, yes, in a sense. But it makes a difference to people what weapons are at hand for them to use – and, even more, what happens to people in a climate where fear is rampant and the default response to frightening or unsettling situations or personal tensions is violence and the threat of violence. If all you have is a hammer, it’s sometimes said, everything looks like a nail. If all you have is a gun, everything looks like a target.
People use guns. But in a sense guns use people, too. When we have the technology for violence easily to hand, our choices are skewed and we are more vulnerable to being manipulated into violent action.
Perhaps that’s why, in a passage often heard in church around this time of year, the Bible imagines a world where swords are beaten into ploughshares. In the new world which the newborn child of Christmas brings into being, weapons are not left to hang on the wall, suggesting all the time that the right thing to do might after all be to use them. They are decommissioned, knocked out of shape, put to work for something totally different.
You can listen to the program here; or read a transcript here.
I wonder how conservative American Episcopalians and Anglicans will respond, perhaps by telling him to butt out of our affairs?
The connection with “swords are beaten into ploughshares” is a great one!