I interrupt our regularly scheduled posts… Please take the time to read the whole thing. Please share it. Please take it to heart. If you need to fix or refill your coffee, I’ll wait here while you do.
I don’t like remembering how many posts I’ve written in the past 18 months about the violence in this country that takes the lives of our fellow human beings.
And the shootings keep happening. The violence prevails. The pace is accelerating and we have to do something.
We cry out to God in our anguish and say “how long, Lord, how long?” And in Divine Love and Compassion God reminds us that we are the vessels of Love and Compassion in this world. We are to shine God’s light into the darkness; we are to show others the self-giving goodness of God. This is God’s plan and we are active participants in this purpose as we follow Jesus.
And, so, in self-reflection and the awareness of God’s loving presence with us we ask the question: What is it going to take to let go of our gun culture and embrace a culture that makes human life more valuable than anything else?
Look at this list, in a month’s time 36 human lives taken by gun violence. Yes, it takes a person to fire the gun but that person has been influenced by our culture that has decided that killing others is the answer to our problems, that our right to own something is more important than life itself.
“The attack in Indianapolis on Thursday came after a spate of mass shootings across the United States in recent weeks:
In mid-March, eight people were shot to death at three massage parlors in the Atlanta area, raising fears that the crimes may have targeted people of Asian descent.
Less than a week later, 10 people were killed when a gunman opened fire at a grocery store in Boulder, Colo.
At the end of March, a gunman killed four people, including a 9-year-old boy, at a real estate office in Southern California.
Last week, a neighbor shot and killed a doctor, the doctor’s wife and their two grandchildren inside their house in Rock Hill, S.C., as well as an air-conditioning technician who was working outside the home. A sixth person who was shot later died.”
(Copied from the New York Times)
And just yesterday in San Antonio we had an active shooter firing from a major highway intersection before making his way to the airport with the intent to do harm. Thankfully he was stopped before killing anyone and yes, I know that the police officer that shot him used a gun. I know how tricky the balance is between protection and violent force; I teach church congregations how to respond if an active shooter enters what is supposed to be a sacred and safe place.
I’m not naive enough to think that creating more gun laws will keep guns out of the hands of criminals but I do believe the statistical evidence that shows that the US leads the world in mass shootings excluding wartime and military events. In countries with strict gun laws mass kills are extremely rare so apparently they do help in some way.
Gun control isn’t really an argument about what we do and do not have a right to own. It isn’t even really an argument about constitutional rights. Gun control is a debate about the value of human life. It is a debate about whether or not we place the value of human life above all else.
We can’t claim to defend the constitution if we believe our individual right to anything is more important than the greater good of all. Our constitution wasn’t written to enable us to be a bunch of individuals looking out for ourself at the expense of the freedoms of others. There isn’t a single piece of our constitution that defends that kind of self-centered, false form of freedom. Nor is there anything in the good news of Jesus Christ that does so.
Our constitution was written to enable a society in which the general welfare of everyone, justice, and tranquility are what we defend together. And sometimes this means we have to make individual sacrifices for the greater good. The second amendment does not require anyone to own guns it simply protects the right and personal choice to do so. The guns you own are your personal choice. And so I encourage you to ask yourself, in prayerful awareness of God’s love, the question: Why do I choose to own the guns I own?
Jesus teaches us that love and compassion are the way we follow him. Jesus stopped the disciples who attempted to defend him with violence and healed the perceived enemy whom they wounded.
Together, let us ask the question: how can we, as we follow Jesus, counter the pervading culture which teaches that we can control another by threat of violence, our culture that says loud and clear, “don’t mess with me I have a gun”? This way of living is not at all compatible with the good news of Jesus Christ nor is it the reasoning behind the second amendment.
Gun violence isn’t a personal liberty issue, it is a human life issue. My right to own anything is never more important or more valuable than another person’s life. Let human life, every single human ever born, who is living now, and who will come after us, let human beings be more important, more valuable than any thing. Let our power come from God’s love for all whom God created.
Let’s learn to love each other as God loves us.