How long, O Lord.... How long must I take counsel in my soul
and have sorrow in my heart all the day? (Ps. 13)
I write that not to suggest that I am waiting on some divine intervention to stop what we have greater capacity to end than our current political will demonstrates.
I write to express, as did the Psalmist, that our hearts cannot endure much more. Heavy with the burden of a corporate grief that is becoming far too much to bear, catharsis is fast becoming our default mode.
We are going to search for explanation, for rationale, for motives that makes sense out of these mass shootings - there is none to be found. And that makes the pain of living with this madness harder and harder to endure. I can't imagine how those most directly impacted by this, especially the families of those whose loved ones were senselessly gunned down during a festive celebration of the Holidays, manage their own grief. My heart and my prayers go out to them - even knowing how utterly empty those words feel as I write them.
I am grateful to my colleague, the Rev. Kent Siladi in Connecticut, who wrote this morning:
"I don't think there are any easy answers but I do have a sense that God is weeping over what is happening in our world. We are called to be God bearers and Gospel proclaimers in this time. Our mission and ministry continue to be centered in Gospel hope in the midst of the great despair and violence that surrounds us. Our witness must be a powerful one of proclaiming love and justice and of working for social change to transform God's world into a more just, loving, compassionate place.... It is a time to allow our hearts to be broken open once again to the Incarnation of God. Into the midst of pain and suffering, of warfare and violence, of doubt and derision, God came as a child. Into our pain and suffering, warfare and violence - God comes again."
These next things I write will be said by many others, but, damn it they have to be said - and, apparently, over and over and over again.
To every government official in this land: give us some gun safety legislation that takes these automatic weapons off the market! Write stronger gun control laws, and quit caving in to the NRA and their lobbyists. Every dollar you collect from them to fill the coffers of your campaign interests is dirty money. Stop taking that money, and start writing legislation that gives innocent people a fighting chance to feel safe again in our homes, our churches, our schools, our places of business!
To every angry citizen: demonstrate, write your representatives, gather in public places and show not just your collective anger and your collective grief - but your willingness to sustain a movement that demands gun control legislation be written, passed, and supported with substantial penalties, fines, and sentences that sufficiently dis-incentivizes violation of it.
To every American, do not give in to the Islamophobia that seems to follow every such incident about which it is reported that the shooters are Muslim. Whether or not it is proven to be true; whether or not their motive was borne of a brand of Islam that authorizes such horror and atrocity: there is no justification for taking advantage of our collective grief and anger by demonizing a peaceful people whose own grief and anger is as real and legitimate as ours. Stop listening to the lie that Islam breeds hatred. It doesn't. Ideologues with ulterior motives and nefarious agendas exist who seek to distort their tradition's teachings and incentivize terror. They are Muslim, and they are Christian. They neither speak for, nor diminish the legitimacy of the more honorable expressions of their faith that inspire their more loyal adherents to acts of kindness, compassion, grace, mercy, love, and peace.
We are better than this. We really are. It's time to prove that and end this god awful madness.