My Parents and Guns – the Ultimate Validation of an Ancient Principle

When we grew up in the ’60’s, my liberal pacifist parents were terrified of guns. They wouldn’t allow one in their house or on their property. My dad had been in the army air corps in WWII and seen horrible things as an aircraft mechanic in England. They saw guns only as tools of war and crime, and felt that if you didn’t have a dire immediate need for them, you shouldn’t have them. They felt that only the police and military should have them, after all it was their job to protect us. Very typical of modern pacifist Jews.

But while they held these attitudes, they also gave me books to read. Books like “Auschwitz” and “Mila 18”. For those who haven’t read them, “Auschwitz” was about the infamous concentration-death camp and “Mila 18” was about the Jews of the Warsaw ghetto in Poland.

Now I’ve always felt a great deal of irony regarding these things, being my mother’s side of the family was from Russia, and immigrated to the United States around 1900 to escape the frequent pograms against Jews there. My father’s family was from Poland and came to the United States around the same time, to escape the frequent pograms against Jews there. But of course his side of the family no longer exists in Poland, being only about a dozen Jews were left alive there after Hitler got done with them. Wiped out. That entire half of our family line is gone forever. Exterminated from the face of the earth.

So you can see the confusion in my mind, regarding the bitter irony of how any modern American Jew could be a pacifist and think that the government could, or would protect them.

Most of the Jews of Europe were pacifists in pretty much the same way back then. “It can never happen here”. Guess what. It did. The later exceptions to pacifism were the ones who survived the Holocaust and went on to form Israel as a nation where they would never have to be pacifist victims again. But most American Jews failed to learn from all that. While growing up, I observed that they often liked to bask in the eternal victimization of their religion, they’d often wear it as a badge on their shoulders to gain sympathy. But they failed to learn from it and move on. I decided to move on.

After reading those books, and witnessing the pacifist attitudes of the majority of American Jews, I became very deeply humiliated by the whole idea of being, or staying Jewish, and looked around for another religion in my mid-20’s. I finally settled on Panentheism, an obscure philosophy-based religion with a paradigm that I could actually find credible. I renounced Judaism in my mid-20’s and have never gone back to it.

Victimhood is a state of mind.

Someone can remain a victim long after being victimized, or in this case long after those in their religion have been victimized. Or they can decide that the whole victim trip is not for them, that “never again” shouldn’t have a question mark after it but an exclamation point. That it should not just be a plea to governments not to round them up like cattle, put them in railroad cattle cars, send them off to death factories and gas them and burn them again, but that it should be a demand, that free sovereign individuals insist on for themselves.

Refusing to be a victim doesn’t mean that no one will ever hurt you again. They may hurt you. They may hurt you badly or even kill you, but when you join the “refuse to be a victim program”, you decide to change your state of mind about it. Those few hundred Jews in the Warsaw ghetto joined the “refuse to be a victim program”. They came to the very realistic conclusion that the government would not protect them and that it really wasn’t anyone else’s job but their own, and they made the very conscious decision that they would not be victims. They took responsibility for their own defense. They armed themselves and fought back. With a few lousy small arms, paid for with diamonds, and barely any ammo, they held off the most modern mechanized army of their time for three months.

The whole episode later reminded me of the phrase, “Molon Labe”.


“Molon labe (mo-lone lah-veh)

Two little words. With these two words, two concepts were verbalized that have lived for nearly two and a half Millennia. They signify and characterize both the heart of the Warrior, and the indomitable spirit of mankind. From the ancient Greek, they are the reply of the Spartan General-King Leonidas to Xerxes, the Persian Emperor who came with 600,000 of the fiercest fighting troops in the world to conquer and invade little Greece, then the center and birthplace of civilization as we know it. When Xerxes offered to spare the lives of Leonidas, his 300 personal bodyguards and a handful of Thebans and others who volunteered to defend their country, if they would lay down their arms, Leonidas shouted these two words back.

Molon Labe! (mo-lone lah-veh)

They mean, “Come and get them!” They live on today as the most notable quote in military history. And so began the classic example of courage and valor in its dismissal of overwhelming superiority of numbers, wherein the heart and spirit of brave men overcame insuperable odds.”

I always admired that about those few hundred Jews, when reading that novel Mila 18. They were free, because their minds were free. They refused to be victims.

Basking in victimhood doesn’t do a thing for you. Oh some people might express sympathy, but who cares? The bottom line is that those who carry the victimhood mentality are abject. They depend on others to protect them, don’t take personal responsibility for their own lives and freedom, and ultimately leave themselves at the mercy of the first thugs who come along and want to use them as victims. If you survive victimhood, whining about it doesn’t gain you a thing. No one really respects you for it. You allowed yourself to be a victim. You depended foolishly on someone else to protect you, and no one else really has any obligation to protect you, after all.

You were a fish, a sucker, a victim. You bought into pacifism as a lifestyle and were utterly screwed because of it. You were lucky to even survive what happened to you, and it certainly wasn’t because of your own actions, it was because you were lucky, or your attacker(s) decided to let you live that day. But it was up to them, not up to you, because you refused to take personal responsibility. You refused to “refuse to be a victim”.

But once someone gets with that program, everything changes. Someone can attack or even kill them, but they refuse to be a victim. And if they arm and train themselves, they also have a decent chance of defending themselves against the attacker. What we call a “fighting chance”. Yes, victimhood is a state of mind, and so is deciding to live as a free individual.

So when I moved out of my parents’ house in the early ’70’s, I bought my first gun. At first I was still a little timid and influenced by them, so I bought a .22 target pistol, but later I bought a .357 magnum revolver.

They went on with the same American pacifist Jewish attitudes until 1980. Then I received a call from my mom one day that almost made me faint. She tells me that her and my dad had just returned from the shooting range where they had shot their new .38 special revolver. What?! After I regained my mental consciousness, I asked her for details.

“A gun owner is a pacifist who’s been mugged.”

It seems that they had come home one night, to find a couple of guys crawling out the back window with some of their stuff. Now that by itself wouldn’t have changed them from pacifists into assertive individuals, it was the thought process that ensued. As they sat there feeling a certain amount of shock that someone would dare to break into their house and steal things, they started thinking about what might have happened if they’d been at home and these two guys had decided to do it anyway. They didn’t much like that idea.

It would be called a “home invasion” or a “hot burglary”, when criminals don’t care if someone is home, and have so little regard for human life that they would break in anyway, and of course do anything they wanted with the homeowners. That was what finally motivated my parents to buy a gun. Not just one gun actually, my mom then proceeded to tell me that they had also purchased a 12 gauge pump shotgun with the minimum legal barrel length. A Winchester. My mom told me that they had been taking the guns with them when they left the house too, putting them in the trunk of the car and bringing them in again when they returned home. They didn’t want to leave open the possibility that some criminals like those, might find their guns and be waiting for them with them. They wanted control over their own destiny.

It was an interesting step for them. It was taking some responsibility for their own lives and safety, realizing that the government couldn’t protect them, that indeed the government wasn’t responsible for their lives, they were.

“If one comes to kill you, rise and kill him first.” – The Torah

In their case, they never quite got over their fear of guns, despite all that. After awhile they forgot it all. The .38 special went in a nightstand drawer and the shotgun stayed in the closet. In fact I’d bet they never even fired that shotgun to practice with it and probably never fired the .38 again to practice with that. It was their nature. But they made a mental leap at that point, from being pacifist victims, to taking at least a little responsibility for their own defense.

My mom passed away this past March 25th at the age of 81. Dad’s the same age and decided to sell the house and move to an assisted living complex now. He moved last week. And even though he’s a bit feeble now, my sister told me this week that he still wanted to take his guns with him. It seems that he’d seen the story about a Muslim who had shot up a Jewish center in Seattle and wounded and killed some people recently, so he really wants to keep his guns. Good for you dad.

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