It has been a difficult week in which to write. So many troubling things are occurring, so much hatred and evil. Attacks in Paris. A gunman in Colorado Springs. Acknowledgement that another innocent young black man was gunned down in Chicago. Congressmen vowing not to support environmental legislation, but to repeal it. A presidential candidate mocking a disabled reporter. The same candidate vowing to require all Muslims to wear an identifying emblem and be registered (shades of Nazi Germany). Politicians vowing to deny entrance to Syrian refugees. I wonder if it was this way when Jesus was born.
Yesterday there was a shooting in San Bernardino, near where our Annual Conferences are held. It took place at a center for the developmentally disabled. Try as I might, I can’t understand why someone would shoot up a center serving the disabled. Then I wonder if it has to do with the politician mocking the disabled. Have we really sunk so low that “less than perfect” people are expendable? A cold shiver runs through me.
Later I heard the intended victims were people attending a training session (or a holiday party) in a room rented out for such purposes, and I wonder if it is “just another random workplace episode.” Why are these incidents becoming so commonplace that we can call them “just another”? What is wrong with us? In an e-mail I opened today I read that the favorite Black Friday sale item was a handgun. “ reported that on November 27, the FBI processed a record-breaking 185,345 background checks for gun owners, or about one every two seconds. It’s the most firearms sold in a single day since background checks were instituted in 1998.”*
When I hear that the suspects, who were killed in a shootout with police, had Arabic surnames, I wonder if this will be judged a “terrorist” action and there will be reprisals against innocent Muslims.
I read that their weapons were legally purchased, and I wonder, once again, who needs such weapons, that are capable of firing multiple rounds at high speeds? There is only one use for this type of weapon, and that is to kill people.
And then I read that at the same time violence was erupting in San Bernardino, a gunman in Savannah, GA shot four people early Wednesday, killing a woman and injuring three men. No suspect has been arrested yet.
I am sorry if I offend anyone with these thoughts, but enough is enough. There have been 355 mass shootings in 336 days. In this season of Advent, of anticipation of the birth of the Prince of Peace, it breaks my heart to see that voices of reason are still shouted down when it comes to thoughtful training and licensing of firearms and their users, as well as limits on the types and numbers of firearms owned by any one person. Each new incident results in more precious lives lost, more lives changed forever due to trauma and disability. How many lives will be enough?
In this season of Advent, let us work for peace, let us pray for peace, let our lives radiate peace, just as the prophet Isaiah foretold:
Many peoples shall come and say,
“Come, let us go up to the mountain of the Lord,
to the house of the God of Jacob;
that he may teach us his ways
and that we may walk in his paths.”
For out of Zion shall go forth instruction,
and the word of the Lord from Jerusalem.
He shall judge between the nations,
and shall arbitrate for many peoples;
they shall beat their swords into plowshares,
and their spears into pruning hooks;
nation shall not lift up sword against nation,
neither shall they learn war any more. Isaiah 2:3-5
Dear Lord, Our hearts break with each new shooting incident. Keep us outraged. Keep us offended. Don’t let them become commonplace, everyday incidents for us. Help us find a way to stop the madness, and let us reach out in meaningful ways to the victims. Help us to be the people and nation we know we can be. Amen