Using silence in gun control conversation
Recently, like so many other groups, the Saratoga Peace Alliance has struggled with the issue of gun violence.
The Saratoga Peace Alliance (SPA), a small group of people in Saratoga Springs, have been meeting for several years (some close to 10 years) witnessing for peace at the corner of Lake Avenue and Broadway every Saturday from noon to 1 PM. Additionally, they meet in the morning before the vigil the first Saturday of the month to take care of business. The second Saturday to talk about “Being Peace” - how to “be” the peace they want to see in the world. How do we address the violence we see in the world and more importantly in ourselves? - they ask.
With the gun show set for this weekend in Saratoga Springs, they have taken a unique approach to addressing the issue: silence and listening.
They are hosting a silent vigil on Saturday, January 12th from 1:15 to 2:15 PM at the City Center on Broadway in downtown Saratoga Springs. The focus of the vigil is to ask “How Can We Work Together To End Gun Violence?” - which will be on the only sign at their event. SPA is looking to engage not enrage the public and the people who attend the show. Participants are asked not to carry signs at the vigil and are asked to agree to the following Statement of Nonviolence:
· We will not vandalize.
· We will not use or carry alcohol or illegal drugs.
· We will refrain from insults and swearing.
· We will not run or otherwise make threatening motions.
· We will not assault, wither verbally or physically, those who oppose or disagree with us, even if they assault us.
· We will protect those who oppose us from insult or attack.
· Our attitude as conveyed through words, symbols and actions will be one of openness, friendliness, and respect toward all people we encounter including police officers, military personnel, members of the larger community and all marchers.
· We will carry no weapons.
· As members of a nonviolent demonstration, we will follow the directions of the designated coordinators.
· In the event of a serious disagreement, we will remove ourselves from the action.
After the silent vigil SPA will host an opportunity for attendees of the gun show to share their perspectives, insights and ideas to end gun violence by going to the show and offering to sit down over coffee and donuts - they're buying. SPA members will take an active listening role at this event, not offering their opinions, ideas, or suggestions, but simply listening. What are gun owners ideas for ending gun violence? What are their fears and concerns?
This different approach, as opposed to the same old, same old, rally and speakers was prompted by one of the gun owners in the group, Jon Faulkner. Instead of doing the same thing with signs chants and speakers - where we end up “preaching to choir” - that will also most likely threaten gun owners and accomplish nothing, why not offer an opportunity to sit down together and have a rational conversation, John offered.
Brilliant”, they said so quickly and enthusiastically that he was actually at a loss for words. He figured after proposing the idea he would have to spend the next half hour explaining why it was a good idea; when he didn't have to he didn't know what to say next!
This peace group supports responsible gun ownership and at the same time meaningful protections for citizens.
SPA hopes to be an example for the nation on how to start a rational conversation on ending gun violence and finding the middle ground between “people can own any and every type of gun” and “any and all guns should be confiscated” that we all can agree on and begin to work from.
An opportunity to create change we can not only believe in but live with - literally.