How long? How long will our newsfeeds be filled with horror, terror and senseless violence? Whether it is focused on one individual, or dozens or hundreds…how long?
This theme has resonated with me the last few years. It never, ever seems to go away. Whether it was the shooting of Doctor George Tiller in 2009 when I blogged June 1 or Congresswomen Gabrielle Gifford, which I reblogged the post on January 9, 2011. Or when I posted about the senseless death of Tanya Tandoc just over a year ago, or when I posted about the violence in Paris, Beirut and other places for Advent 2015, it never seems to end.
I never posted, but preached a sermon on the tragedy at Sandy Hook, in December 2012. Words seem inadequate in the face of such evil and such horror and terror. Last night in Orlando, Florida, a gunman opened fire in the Pulse Club. Fifty, FIFTY people died and fifty three were injured. The headlines noted it was a “gay” club and as I write this, the gunman had allegedly pledged allegiance to ISIS. President Obama has stated it was an act of terror and a hate crime.
I am tired of hearing that more guns will prevent this, or that “guns don’t kill people, people kill people.” People do kill people with guns and bombs and knives and other weapons. I gunman with 2 guns wreaked this havoc. I will probably never understand why registration, background checks and limiting semi automatic weapons is a problem. I am not in any way saying that guns should be illegal, I just do not understand why having limits on those kind of guns is a problem, or why have permits or requiring training is somehow an issue of individual rights.
There are regulations that limit all our freedoms, that is how we live in a free society. The constitution and bill of rights were never meant for chaos and anarchy. There are limits to freedom of speech (you can’t yell fire in a theatre, for example) or religion (last I checked human sacrifice is not protected). Sensible restrictions make “sense.” I know it won’t solve all problems or that people, particularly those bent on violence won’t get around them, but it might make it harder.
On top of my great grief and sadness is an attack on my LGBTQ brothers and sisters. Right now, the belittling and angry rhetoric is heart breaking to me. My own denomination almost split and came to literal blows over full inclusion. My own denomination chose not to pass a resolution on bullying because it was too controversial. I mean who defines bullying anyway?
As a pastor, I understand deep theological and philosophical differences. I can actually acknowledge and appreciate views different from my own. My deep sadness has to do with the language used to condemn others, particularly those who are bullied often from the time they are young. Often, we as the church, heap more blame and judgement upon those most vulnerable.
So fifty are dead, fifty three wounded, most part of the LGBTQ community. How will we as the church respond? Will we withhold our compassion and our outrage because the issues around sexuality are so “controversial?” When Sandy Hook happened, our moral outrage was muted and we spoke with compassion, but did not one thing to change a country where children can murdered at school. In my heart, we lost our moral compass when the deaths of children were not enough for us to look collectively at our romance with gun violence.
So how many more mass shootings of vulnerable people will it take? How many more deaths? For my own confession, I have found myself not as moved as I used to be, because almost every week we have another shooting. They all get blurred into the general news. It takes fifty for me to pay attention again. I know this post is written to quickly to allow for logical thought and progression yet, Lord in your mercy, hear my prayer. Help me be a voice for change, for love, for understanding and for the path of peace.