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.
Control of the arms trade, whether for individuals or for nations, won’t in itself stop the impulse to violence and slaughter. But it’s a start in changing what’s taken for granted. The good news of Christmas is that the atmosphere of fear and hostility isn’t the natural climate for human beings, and it can be changed.
If all you have is a gun, everything looks like a target. But if all you have is the child’s openness and willingness to be loved, everything looks like a promise. Control of the weapons trade is a start. But what will really make the difference is dealing with fear and the pressure to release our anxiety and tension at the expense of others. A new heart, a new spirit, as the Bible says; so that peace on earth won’t be an empty hope.
Rowan Williams. I often have to tell people that I don’t agree with everything that I post — I sometimes post quotations because I think they’re interesting, worth thinking about, whether I agree or not. But in this case I want to be clear that I could not possibly agree more fervently with what the Archbishop says here.