Tov Questions

By Alex Macias

Like Cathy, I’m struggling with this one.

I absolutely resonate with Jill’s conviction to protect the flock and with Geila’s lament that children now prepare for first person shooters.  After the Newtown shooting, my daughter’s pre-school started doing shooting drills.  I cried when I read the email the director sent to parents.  I was distraught when later that day my daughter described to me how they hid in the bathroom.

It goes deeper than that.  When she was three weeks old, I was cradling her in my arms when a shooting happened outside our building.  Less than two months later, when I took her to Arizona to visit my family, Gabby Giffords and eighteen others were shot a mile from my parent’s home.  We almost missed our flight back to Chicago because of the roads being blocked off.

I get it.  The fear is real.

But there is something that I find very unsettling about the argument that guns, and their ready availability, are not the problem.  Jill touched on this when she asked, “Can we please be wise and discerning about firearms while also recognizing that the weaponry is not the problem? […] Guns have no morals, no convictions, and no opinions.”

It leads me to the question: can objects be evil?

There are other objects that I would not keep in my home even though it would require someone to pick them up and use them.  Similarly, I keep cleaning supplies locked up so that my toddler doesn’t reach them.  I don’t provide the opportunity for improper use, and I do believe as a country, we are providing the opportunity to access weapons too often and to too many people.  What about an object’s creative purpose?  Can the intention of its creation determine whether or not something is good or bad?  Vaccines were developed to eliminate diseases like polio.  Humans were created for worship and stewardship.  Assault weapons were made to kill – efficiently.

Let’s linger on creation for a moment.  Genesis tells us that God created the earth and humanity and said that this was good.  The Hebrew word is tov.  If you haven’t read Nathan Albert’s musings on the Hebrew word tov, you really should.  Tov means good, but it’s more than that.  Tov, and God’s naming of all that he has created as tov, means that it is as it should be – it works as God intended.

What happens when a creation’s purpose is for harm instead of healing?

Albert reminds us of our own creative purpose.  We are supposed to be “a tov community that would not only bear God’s image, but also help God make all of creation tov.”  Every time I read about the violence in my city or yet another mass shooting, I am fearful.  I want to protect the lives of the innocent.

So is it tov to have semi-automatic weapons widely available?

This weekend my brother and I are traveling from different parts of the country to our hometown to attend funerals for two of our grandparents.  My brother will be attending a third funeral which will not be as celebratory as those honoring the long lives of my mother’s mother and my father’s father.  It’s for a friend who took her own life with a handgun.

There are no easy answers.  But I appreciate discussion that first recognizes that life is precious.  I’m thankful for the women here who are asking the questions about fear and violence in light of the truth that God declared human life tov.

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  1 comment for “Tov Questions

  1. Cathy Norman Peterson
    September 28, 2015 at 5:33 pm

    Thanks, Alex, for deepening our conversation with your honest admission of how fear can enter in. I so appreciate your steering us to ask questions about creation and pointing us back to Nathan’s reflections on tov–such an important reminder.

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