Responding to the Robb Elementary School Gun Violence
These are difficult times to find words for the grief and sorrow so many of us are experiencing remembering the gun violence at the Buffalo Tops less than two weeks ago, the terrible loss of young life in Uvalde, Texas at Robb Elementary School and passing the second anniversary of the death of George Floyd. Three horrendous examples of the capacity for violence by individuals acting alone, especially men, here, in Ukrainian war crimes, and around the world.
There just aren’t words to express the many levels and layers of grief and anger these events bring up for us as memorial services for those who have died in Buffalo began this week and the services that will follow for the children in Texas whose lives were taken almost before they had a chance to begin.
Each of us responds differently to these events. For some of us, these events will trigger deep, even paralyzing trauma from previous experiences of violence. Tears and anger can mix with immobilizing fear. For some, their hearts will ache in their chests thinking about the terrible grief of being the parent of one of those children that were killed. The Sandy Hook parents who lost their children know a kind of crippling grief few of us can comprehend, let alone feel, a grief that will never go away. For yet others the reactions will be more cynicism, disgust, and a sense of powerlessness to prevent future violence. No 18-year-olds should be walking around with military grade automatic rifles when they are not on the battlefield. Yet the chance of banning such weapons right now is slim to none.
May we be willing to open our hearts to the incomprehensible grief of those who have lost loved ones to gun violence. May we never become desensitized to the violence that happens again and again to disrupt the lives of community after community around the country. May each such event energize our refusal to live in a world dominated by paranoid gun owner’s lobbyists who block gun control legislation. May we hold the vision of creating ways to solve our problems without violence. May we resist the polarization that sees violence as the only solution to difference.
While stopping violence may at times require strong interventions that may cause harm, it cannot be the solution we seek in the world or in our relationships. The Beloved Community we envision supports compassion, equity, justice and peace between people. That goal may seem far away in moments like this. However, holding to the vision and working towards it is a path that gives meaning and purpose to our lives. It also honors and memorializes those who have died unjustly and unfairly.
May that be the faith in our values and principles we bring to life.