As we hear of one more shooting rampage, this time in a small town in California, I wonder if we are becoming distracted. Following each of the almost weekly massacres we have been witnessing, there follows an immediate polarization. In all of our shouting who is left to love the people who have been damaged by this violence, including those for whom this will stir up symptoms of post-traumatic stress?
It appears we as a society lack the collective will to prevent gun violence. We won’t take away guns, more closely regulate guns, or even commit funds to the research and treatment of mental illness. While a proactive approach is certainly the most effective, I can’t see any sign of one coming in the near future.
So, we could choose to become jaded. We could say that it is impossible to accomplish anything so why even try. I have a very hard time listening to accounts of the victims or watching anything on TV that I will not be able to unsee. When I heard about the California shooting I had to force myself to read the details. How many times can you rip off the scab of heartbreak and horror before it seems like you will never heal?
The truth is that I don’t have to be in California or Las Vegas or fill in the blank to encounter someone who has been a victim of gun violence. There are plenty in the Mahoning Valley. I don’t know their names. I may see them and not even know what they have been through, what they have lost. And yet I am here, and it is here I have the best hope of doing some good.
So in small ways I hope we as a church and as Christians are making the world a softer landing. By providing food and meals, coffee and a chat, respect and dignity, beautiful worship, and other things small and mighty, I hope we are saying that in a country that can’t decide what it values, as a church we are clear we value people. Our neighbors. Justice.
If you have any ideas about how to do that better and boldly, let’s chat.