Is There an Answer to Today’s Violence?
From the Pastor,
This article is in response to the tragic event which recently took place in Las Vegas. It is not intended to be political commentary, but rather a writing to challenge all of us as a church family to be in response to the events of the day. Too often the church remains silent when it comes to social justice issues out of fear of offending its parishioners. Yet there are times when the congregation must hear what it does not want to hear. We should remind ourselves that the lessons of Christ were not always well-received.
In this case, let me start by stating that there is something within our nation that is broken. While there are a number of theories and “talking points” about what is wrong with our country and how it can be fixed, the reality is that no one seems to be doing anything to address the violence of our land. Perhaps the issue of violence is so complex that we really do not know how to respond to this problem. So instead of tackling the issue head-on and in a constructive way, we retreat to our inner social media sites and point fingers at each other. Or perhaps we have just resorted to the idea that violence is just a natural part of life … que sera sera.
The reality of our world today is that mass shootings are at its highest point in our nation’s history. At one time, the only mass shooting of historical significance was the sniper shooting on top of the clock tower on the campus of the University at Texas. Fourteen people died that day back in 1966. Consider today’s statistics. Fourteen deaths pales in comparison to the 32, 49, and 59 deaths we have today. While there are variety of sources that define “mass shooting” and its level of frequency, it is incomprehensible to note that some sources have concluded that the United States has suffered more than 1,500 mass shootings since 2012 (mass shooting defined as an event in which at least 4 people have been shot). Most of us associate mass shooting events with Columbine High School, Sandy Hook, Virginia Tech, Pulse Club in Orlando, and now Las Vegas.
Something is not working. Something needs to be addressed. To sit idly by and do nothing because of the complexity of the topic is wrong.
So what is the answer? What should be done to address this issue? Gun control? Mental health reform? Higher levels of prosecution for crimes committed with a gun? Improve the economy? Create more jobs? Support local law enforcement programs? Write Congress to express concerns? Advocate responsible media reporting? Promote better education? Advocate stronger family values. Reach out to groups at risk (marginalized groups, the poor, the aged). Be the church!
As a church, we represent the extended presence of Christ in today’s world. How would Jesus respond to today’s level of violence? If we are the light that God has called us to be in our current environment, then it is incumbent upon us to do something to stop the suffering. It is certainly not our place to sit on the street corners and watch the world pass us by while its people suffer.
So what is the answer? While I do not think that a solution lies solely on any one of the suggestions listed above, I do think that a solution can be found in utilizing all the means above to curb the level of violence in our country. There has to be an effort to repair what is broken. Starting somewhere is at least a start. Whether we think a program will work is not the question. The issue is that we have to start somewhere to stop the violence. For God’s sakes, let’s do something!