Dear Members and Friends of the Desert Southwest Conference,
I am struggling to find words to describe how I feel in the aftermath of the Pittsburg massacre.
Am I shocked? Not when mass shootings occur with such frequency! NO! On October 27, 2018, in addition to 11 persons murdered by gun violence in the synagogue massacre, 31 other persons were killed because of gun violence in communities around the US. The real shock is that we keep saying we want to do something to curb this scourge, but we are unable to do so.
Am I saddened? The deep, deep despair I feel goes way beyond “sad.” Our moral compass has been de-magnetized by leadership that refuses to budge on supporting, encouraging, voting for common sense changes to our gun laws. One argument that I am tired of hearing is that “simply instituting bans on assault weapons is not going to solve our problem.” I agree that common sense changes to our gun laws won’t completely solve the problem, but it would be a positive step in the right direction, saving lives.
Am I prayerful? What does one pray for in a time like this? Our prayers for the victims and their families and friends assuage grief, but could it be that our prayers are intended more to make us feel better about ourselves because we have done something in response to the killings? The Jewish community faces increasing anti-Semitic violence. Our prayers may convey our concern but do our prayers do anything to curb the evil of hatred? We need fervent prayers that persons in power who have the authority would find the courage to change laws and practices. So far, our prayers have fallen on deaf ears. It is time for us to act prayerfully instead of praying that others will act.
Am I hopeful? My heart sinks at the intensity of hatred and violence expressed by the perpetrators of these heinous acts. Time and time again, those with the power to enact laws that might diminish the senseless loss of life refuse to be moved. Only when our elected leaders are courageous enough to realize the evil of mass killings and work to disarm those who kill and destroy life will my soul will be hopeful again.
In the wake of tragic shootings such as this one, I have often said that we in the church must step forward to speak against the violence of mass shootings. If you are feeling like I am at this moment, no measure of action is enough to take away the sting of evil proliferating in our country in these troubling days.
I believe the guilt of the death of the 11 persons who had gathered to worship in a holy place in Philadelphia is upon each person who prayed for an end to gun violence but did not contact a politician who had power to change laws. I believe the guilt of the death of the 11 is upon us if we felt shocked or saddened or outraged but did not do much more than pray for God to comfort those who mourn.
It is time to do more than just mourn. It is time for us to advocate for those whose lives were mercilessly cut down this past weekend. They can no longer speak; so we must speak and act for them. That is the way the church must honor their lives; that is how the church must comfort their loved ones. That is the way the church joins with other faith communities to make the world God gave us a place where there can be peace.
So, the words that come to my heart this day are: Let us to do no harm, do good, and to stay in love with the God who created us to love one another.
Among the many actions YOU can take in memory of the 11, please join with others to:
- Advocate for sensible laws that are designed to keep weapons out of the hands of those who would use them for evil.
- Pray for leaders of communities where there is emotional, spiritual, and physical trauma and pain caused by gun violence.
- Dare to pray for a miracle: that we will see a time when violent massacres will cease.
- Write a letter, send an email, speak to those who have the power and authority to make change. To write a letter, please go to https://interfaithletters4peace.org/.
And may the peace of God be with you,