Like many Americans this week, I’m having a hard time restraining myself and my emotions in the wake of the deadly shooting spree in Las Vegas that claimed 59 lives and left ten times that number wounded. I’m searching for the moral high ground.
In Psalms, we find this verse: “The Lord is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit.” And America is brokenhearted and crushed in spirit.
But what can we do. Of course, we need to pray and we need faith to hold ourselves and our nation together.
Now is not the time not for rage, fury or vengeance. We must instead focus on the faith inside ourselves. Yet, how do we resist outrage and anger when one individual— in roughly ten minutes — can murder almost sixty people and wound more than 500 with automatic weapons that were purchased legally? Does our focus on faith and prayer become a mere diversion from asking harder questions of our nation’s leaders about how these kinds of crimes can be prevented?
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We must also resist the typical onset of the “normality” of these events. Think about how many mass murders we have witnessed over the last ten years. Virginia Tech in 2007, Sandy Hook Elementary in 2012, San Bernardino, Umpqa Community College in Oregon and Charleston’s Mother Emanuel Church all in 2015, Orlando’s Pulse nightclub and the Dallas police shootings in 2016. Now the Las Vegas carnage of 2017 is added to the list.
When do we say enough?
What can we expect now? Non-stop cable news coverage for three or four days before we all go on to the next news cycle. National leaders pontificate but can’t agree on steps to deal with gun violence and our lives go on until the next rampage.
One side says: “‘Don’t blame guns. Guns don’t kill. People do.”
The other calls for a ban on automatic weapons.
The sad result of Las Vegas and incidents like it is that more people purchase guns to protect themselves and America becomes an armed fortress.
Is this the solution?
We can identify with the Psalmist’s outrage when he wrote, “Bring to an end the violence of the wicked and make the righteous secure — you, the righteous God who probes minds and hearts”
Is it God’s responsibility to end violence? Or is it ours?
How many more will die before moral leadership returns?
I do not understand how a human being commits these crimes, takes his own life and leaves the rest of the world in tatters. I am left with more questions and no satisfactory answers. Again, the Psalms provide a measure of comfort. “The Lord examines the righteous, but the wicked, those who love violence, he hates with a passion.” These words help but cannot totally soothe my anger.
Here is something that does: The actions of first responders and those who risked their lives to help the wounded and dying. These actions restore my faith. Inside these stories is the spark of holiness — the essence of Godly behavior — that no amount of crazed brutality can obliterate. They revive my spirit and give me hope that the core of this nation is still great. America remains a country of compassion, heroism, and respect for each other in times of need.
This is not the first time I’ve written about such tragedies. It will very likely not be the last. Is there no end in sight? Will we become numb to mass killings?
Shall our voices grow silent or louder to move our national leaders to make a difference?
Do we give up?
Or do we become activists against this kind of violence?
Remember the words of Job: “Though I cry ‘violence,’ I get no response; though I call for help, there is no justice.” When will we answer the call?
We cannot predict the actions of a crazed person hell bent on murdering people. But we can make it harder for them to buy and or transform weapons into even more dangerous weapons of mass destruction. Is it time to ascend to the moral high ground and finally say “enough?”
Enacting laws is not the ultimate solution. Creating a peaceful society comes from shared values. We must step up our efforts to discuss the consequences of gun violence and violence in general. We need a sea change in shaping the society where each person, as the prophet Isaiah said, “Shall sit under their vine and fig tree and none shall make them afraid,”
We must put our faith into action.