Have you ever been so angry you just didn’t know what to do with all that emotion? The kind of emotion that almost threatens to consume you.
We are such an incredibly advanced society. We have such knowledge and abilities today that would truly stun and overwhelm those who preceded us 60+ years ago. We are working on technologies that will send people back to the moon and onto Mars. We can see further into space than ever before. We have identified earth-like planets in solar systems 37 light years from us. We are on the brink of curing some forms of cancer with wonder drugs and treatments our forbears could not have even dreamed of. We are producing power with wind, solar, and even possibly on the brink of nuclear fusion which would give us almost unlimited access to safe clean power. We can technically produce enough food to feed the entire world. There is no doubt about it, we have made some amazing advancements over the last 60 years.
On March 27th another mass shooting occurred at the Covenant School in Nashville, Tennessee. Six people were killed, three children and three staff members. Katherine Koonce, Mike Hill, Cynthia Peak, Hallie Scruggs, Evelyn Dieckhaus, and William Kinney all died as a result of gun violence. More than 9800 people have been killed in gun violence so far in 2023. If you do the math, that means the average is 114 deaths each day.
The leading cause of death for American children and teens has become firearms. That means firearms take more children’s lives than disease, car accidents, home accidents, drowning, fire, or natural disasters. We are only 3 months into 2023 and there have been 132 mass shootings so far. More than one mass shooting a day this year.
How is it possible for a society to be as technologically advanced as we are, to be able to solve so many complex problems, and yet we can’t solve a human-made problem?
My anger may not readily come through these words, but it’s there, believe me.
I reposted on FaceBook something I had come across. It spoke to the kind of anger I’m feeling. “Thoughts and prayers are useless to dead children.” I know that’s a strange thing for a pastor to say. A kind and gentle former parishioner from another church commented to say “prayers are never useless.” And yes, I stand corrected. Prayers are never useless when we put into action what we pray for. You see, prayer without action is merely words. God’s power to enact change in the world around us through our prayers rests solely in you and me. We ARE the change agents God uses. We ARE who God relies on to bring about the peaceable kingdom.
Some 60 years ago a young man stood and gave a commencement address trying to help us all understand we have the power to bring change and to enact peace. The Cold War was at its height, we were only some eight months past the Cuban Missile crisis where we were on the verge of nuclear war. This was a world where children had to practice for a possible nuclear attack. They practiced by hiding under their school desks. How ridiculous does that sound? Today, they practice active shooter drills. Imagine, little children, practicing for the unthinkable.
At the American University, John F. Kennedy said, “So let us not blind ourselves to our differences, but let us also direct attention to our common interests and how those differences can be resolved. And if we cannot end now our differences, at least we can help make the world safe for diversity. For, in the final analysis, our most basic common link is that we all inhabit this small planet. We all breathe the same air. We all cherish our children’s future. And we are all mortal.”
I cannot imagine how true those words still ring today. We may have policy disagreements. We may all look at our interests in some selfish ways. But surely, we can all agree we must cherish our children’s future. And if we cherish their future, our top priority must be securing them from the specter of gun violence and death.
This Sunday will be Palm Sunday, the day we commemorate as the day Jesus rode a donkey into Jerusalem. Jesus knew where he was going. Jesus knew what he was doing was against his interest. Jesus went to secure your future and my future. Jesus went to show us the way of love, to prove to us love conquers all. Surely, we love our children enough to do whatever it takes to secure their future.
May God’s love propel us into action. May God’s love cause righteous anger to rise in us and give us the motivation to do what’s right for the little ones. May God’s love initiate in us a zeal to ensure we will never barter away the lives of the most vulnerable.
Your fellow traveler on the Way,