I learned the essence of Christianity from my mother. Till I was a teenager, at bedtime she read the Sermon on the Mount out loud before we said the Lord’s Prayer. A simple, unschooled woman, my mother always highlighted Jesus as a force for peace. She was the first person to point out to me Martin Luther King’s dramatic embracing of non-violence as proof he was a man we should listen to — a follower of Jesus.

My father also taught me lessons in life. When I came home from the athletic field one day, crying, with a bloody nose and black eye, my father remained cool. He asked me two questions: “Who did this to you?” and “Did you hit him back?” I started to cry even louder (causing my mother major distress). I ratted out the neighborhood bully. I confessed to my father that Jimmy R. said I could never set foot on that ballfield again or I’d get another bloody nose.

Much to my mother’s further distress, my father turned me around and, not raising his voice, said to me, as he pushed me out the door, “Stop crying and go find Jimmy R. and [in essence] stand your ground!” I did what my Father told me. I stood my ground in front of Jimmy R. I’m not proud of it, but I might have also given Jimmy R. a bloody nose. Jimmy R. left me alone after that day. I didn’t know till much later in life that my father had sent my older brother to shadow me and make sure things did not “get out of hand.” I never realized my big brother was behind me.

I learned something that day about standing up to bullies — calling their bluff.

We are in a historic place in this country. Progressive Democrats abandoned the political playing field to the NRA — after they got their noses bloodied with the repeal of the Assault Rifle Ban and the gutting of the Brady Bill in the 1990s. After allowing the NRA to have its way over the next 20 years with all sorts of outlandish pro-gun measures that undercut and savaged the most basic common-sense measures to curtail gun violence, things are changing! Four gun massacres in 2012 and the Sandy Hook tragedy have changed this country’s mood about guns, the acceptance of gun violence and the NRA. People and politicians and police officials are standing up the 800-pound bully — the NRA.

I’m asking citizens who want to see gun violence curtailed to stand with our president. Please contact your representative and our Illinois senators and let them know you support President Obama’s common-sense measures to curtail gun violence. We must help our legislators — both state and federal — to stand up to the bullies of the NRA.

Please know, I’m not for confiscation of legal firearms or an abrogation of the 2nd Amendment, but I’m for acting to curb gun violence and the slaughter of school children like at Sandy Hook.

No matter how daunting the opposition, I believe one person can make a difference and a whole bunch of folks — united — can change the world, and even stand up to the NRA.

Illinois Council Against Handgun Violence Volunteer Opportunities, www.ichv.org/get-involved.

Bob Haisman is an Oak Park resident.

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