I've been thinking about the practice of "shunning," practiced by the Amish in Lancaster County PA, where we recently spent some happy days.
Young Amish males reach a point where they can choose to go on a "rumspringa" (literally, 'running around,' in German) and try out the world beyond their family and faith. If they like it out here with the car payments and the electric bills and the dumb stuff on the radio and dining on Lunchables, then cool, they can stay away, no questions asked.
About 90% of them come back from their rumspringa with plenty of the world and ready to go back to the Old Order. The other 10 per cent, we assume, become commodities traders in Chicago and soon are indistinguishable from Charlie Sheen.
However - (there is always a hitch!) - if you come back and sign up for the faith, and then you decide you don't like it, well, son, you better just pack up your valise and hit the road, because the only thing awaiting you in your town is a big old shunning.
That's right. No one will talk to you, everyone leaves you alone, you're treated like an outcast, an untouchable, a pariah, a castaway. Sort of like being voted off American Idol.
But then I was fondly remembering George Carlin, who had a novel approach to the nation's gun problem. Reasoning that "never'' would be when we could ever get some sort of gun control legislation passed, Carlin said "Ok, let them keep their guns. Just make BULLETS illegal! And when they run out of bullets, they can just throw their guns at each other all day long."
Why don't we try shunning? As in, the sensible people (readers of this blog, NPR listeners, granola consumers), could just all say they were going to ignore the buffoons, the blowhards, the criminals. Let's stop spending money with people who use their ill-gotten gains for foul purposes. Let's make child molesters and sexual predators feel really unwelcome. Let's refuse to be washed away on a wave of evil, and let's build a waterwall of goodness to keep the badness at bay.