What’s left to say after one of the darkest single days in American history?
All I can think of are 20 or so dads just like me sitting in their office on a ho hum Friday, all of a sudden stunned as news broke on their computers or phones, and then the icy creeping terror upon seeing that familiar school name scroll across the screen. I can’t imagine those next minutes and hours of uncertainty, the finality and agony of knowing, and now the silence. The silent bedrooms, silent classrooms, silent playgrounds. The gifts under the tree now never to be opened.
It is hideous. Unspeakable.
My feed soon exploded with well meaning Christians. People longing for the kingdom to come in its fullness. People searching for answers and only seeing solutions coming from beyond. I understand such sentiment. I share it.
It’s also a cop out. I am sick of it. I am sick of escapist apathy, of apocalyptic passivity. It is time to live in the here and now.
The church is the body of Christ on earth. A body is meant for action. For speaking, working, building, protecting.
No, we don’t have the power to inaugurate utopia. There will always be a snake in our garden. But we can change things for the better. We can work towards justice. We can confront evil. We can make schools safer. We can instill hope, loyalty, community, and maybe even humanity.
Don’t believe me?
Ask William Wilberforce.
Ask Dorothea Day
Ask Martin Luther King, Jr.
Ask Francis of Assisi.
Ask Mother Teresa.
Ask John Wesley.
Ask George Mueller.
Ask the International Justice Mission.
Ask the untold legions of Christian doctors, teachers, and church planters laboring diligently and silently in far flung, gritty places even now as I write.
With such a great cloud of witnesses how can we sit back and return to our lives just hoping the world ends soon?
Christianity is for tomorrow yes, but making it only about tomorrow is a veiled slap to the “least of these” we are called to uphold. It is an excuse to cling to privilege, comfort, and respect and it’s revolting.
America is sick, soul sick with the disease of gun violence and its time we speak truth about it. Already today there was another shooting at a hospital in Birmingham. Two days ago 3 were killed at a mall in Oregon. Every 6 months we have a true massacre with dozens dead. Mark your calendars. You can count on it. There have been 31 major school shootings alone since Columbine. The entire planet combined mustered only 14.
Public massacres are now as quintessentially American as apple pie, baseball, and barbecue.
And we shrug our shoulders. “Well, there will always be sin in the world.” “Now is not the time for politics.”
No, we cannot eradicate violence. However, we can take some common sense measures that will substantially reduce it. For example:
- Advocate for accessible mental health services for all and end the stigmatizing of those who partake of them.
- Challenge the media status quo. Graphic violence in movies, television, and video games marketed to minors must be drastically reduced. Impossible? Consider this, how many teen slasher movies have you seen lately? Right, none. That’s because a group of Christians challenged Hollywood and Washington and won. It can happen again.
- Render illegal for civilian use all military grade weapons and accessories which serve no purpose other than to quickly tear humans to pieces.
- Close existing loopholes and enforce universal background checks on gun buyers of all types.
- Install a waiting period and quota for all gun purchases. Also force every gun buyer to have at least 2 people vouch for their responsibility.
- Stop glamorizing history and heroes through a “shoot ‘em up” narrative. We need to tell our stories differently.
- Maybe, just maybe we need to stop being so afraid. We need to stop driving through whole parts of town with our doors locked. We need to get to know our neighbors. Talk with people who pass us by at work. Turn off the news. Share meals. Share laughs. Share sorrows. Share community. Warm and fuzzy? I guess so, but really it’s our only chance.
Do any of the above steps infringe the right of responsible citizens to protect their families with fire arms, hunt, or collect relics? No, not in any way.
If you have better ideas I’m all ears. What we can’t do is sit around and wait for more dead 5 year olds.
The time to act is now. The time for fear is over. It’s time to live.
Don’t worry. We’re not alone. A great cloud of witnesses is watching, waiting, hoping, even cheering us on.
Will we join them?