At 7:42am on Tuesday last week, Ben turned 10 years old. At the same moment, I was headed to the airport, to catch a flight to attend the annual shareholders’ meeting of Sturm Ruger, our country’s second largest firearms manufacturing company, as part of a team with BUILD/MetroIAF and the “Do Not Stand Idly By” campaign http://donotstandidlyby.org/ . The meeting was held at the Hassayampa Inn in Prescott, AZ, and our team traveled there to support a resolution sponsored by the Interfaith Center on Corporate Responsibility, calling on Sturm Ruger to produce a report on the risks and liability associated with its business. The majority of shareholders voted in favor of this resolution https://mobile.nytimes.com/2018/05/09/business/sturm-ruger-shareholders-activists.html
Making the decision to go was difficult. A couple of weeks ago, when I was struggling with what to do, I told Ben about the meeting, why it was important, and shared my dilemma with him. He is a bright and thoughtful boy, and I wanted to know what he thought.
First, Ben said he needed more time to think about it. An hour later, I checked back in with him. He looked at me seriously, eyebrows furrowed, and said, “Mom, I really think you should go.”
“But why?”I asked. “It means I’d be gone for your birthday!”
“Because it’s a really big problem,” he said, “And if you can do something to help, then you should go.”
A week shy of his 10th birthday, Ben gave voice to a basic, human, moral truth: If there is a problem and it’s within your power to do something to help, then you should.
When it comes to the problem of human life being needlessly wasted, the 16th verse in the 19th chapter of the Book of Leviticus puts it this way : “Do not stand idly by when your neighbor’s life is threatened.”
I was grateful to be able to share my story about Ben with the folks at the Hassayampa Inn last week, and grateful that they listened. I am also grateful to my 10-year-old boy for his giant heart and his pure wisdom. (And his birthday party sleepover is tomorrow so I didn’t miss it!)
Often the biggest changes happen in small, incremental steps, when folks step out of their “boxes” and try to see, hear and meet each other, not as “gun safety activists” and “gun manufacturers” but as people. A resolution was passed at a meeting at The Hassayampa Inn last week. But more importantly, perhaps, people on “opposite sides of a fence” took down a piece of that fence long enough to interact with one another as human beings.