Yet again!

Another day, another mass shooting. We deflect our anger so as to not impinge upon our gun ownership. We deflect our anger so as to not have to look in the mirror at our own image of apathy. Nothing will change if we don’t change ourselves.

We will blame the killing on a “radicalized Islamic” as the media has reported so quickly. Or we will place blame on the killing on a misguided White Supremacist. We will blame the killing on untreated mental illness. We will blame the killings on urban warfare between ethnic gangs.

And we will circle the wagons and preach of the message of Second Amendment rights.

All while ignoring the right to live a life free from hate, free from ridicule, free from exclusion, free from threat, free from being gunned down because of being black, or Hispanic, Native American or a member of the LGBTQI community.

What we hold precious in this Country defies logic. We want our AR-15’s for self-protection. We want our Legislatures to draft bills that legitimize our bigotry. We want our churches to define who and who cannot be in ministry and to whom we can be in ministry. And in doing so we create a society that is toxic.

All while standing idly by as killing after killing take place.

We place blame on victims, we place the blame of lifestyles, we place blame on everything that avoids our own moral culpability in creating an environment of violence. It is a characteristic of human nature to hate those whom we have hurt.

I hear the vitriol from the campaign trail. I hear the vitriol from so-called church leaders. I hear the vitriol from too many to count. Maybe all that vitriol has an effect on a potential killer. I don’t know.

But maybe the real culprit is our silence. Maybe the real culprit is the fear our politicians feel by being emasculated by the Gun Lobby. Maybe the real culprit is our apathy as we forget the names of the dead all too soon.

We demand that our denominations make statements outlining our belief in the sanctity of life and yet we don’t give a damn if that life is that of an LBTQI person or someone different than the bulk of our denomination or congregation.

What is it going to take to hold our legislators accountable for their inaction when it comes to gun-control? What is it going to take to make our church leaders accountable for not addressing meaningful social issues by choosing issues that side-step the type of rampant violence that happens in this Country? What is it going to take for things to change?

It’s going to take each and every one of us effect change. We encourage violence when we watch television programming that romanticizes violent heroes. Our children play video games like Tour of Duty and Grand Theft Auto. Psychologists debate whether or not these things factor in increasing aggressiveness and violence in our children. What should be apparent is that we, as a society, have become desensitized to the Hollywood-violence and, as a result, have been desensitized to the real violence that surrounds us every day.

Our children demand Nerf-guns and light sabers for their birthdays and Christmas.

Perhaps if we changed our viewing habits a message will be sent to television and movie producers. Perhaps if we told our children “No” when it came to violent games and toy guns, a message would be sent to toy producers. Maybe these are small steps, but they are steps in the right direction.

Perhaps if we called and wrote our Congressional leaders, we could change laws pertaining to ease in which people can buy guns.  But, if we aren’t willing to be consistent and persistent in this message we can expect nothing from Congress.

We can hold vigils, we can pray today for what happened today, but what new tragedy will we be praying for tomorrow that causes us to forget Newtown, Columbine, or Mother Emanuel? Not so easy to forget those you say? Do you remember Birchwood, Wisconsin? Brookfield, Wisconsin? Nickel Mines, Pennsylvania? We remember Virginia Tech but do you remember Omaha, Nebraska? What about Carnation, Washington? We remember San Bernardino all the while forgetting Covina, California.

Through our inaction, we are morally culpable every time there is a mass shooting. It well past the time that we, as a society, demand more from ourselves, as well as from our government. It is the time that our church leaders make a stand through divestiture from companies that exacerbate the problems of violence. We should reevaluate what we see in theaters, on television and on DVD and Netflix. As hard as self-discipline might be when it comes to our viewing habits, our very lives might truly depend on it. We must be disciplined in our buying habits. We must become more cognizant of what our children play with and watch in theaters and at home.  When we accept the apathy in ourselves, we authorize the apathy of our Government, our churches and those we look toward to bring about the change we so desperately need.

If we are to expect accountability from our government we must demand it of ourselves first. And then, maybe we can end this madness.


About Vince Gonzales

United Methodist Laity, married to a recent Seminary graduate seeking ordination. Active at all levels of the Church, I sit on the Board of The General Commission on Religion and Race of The United Methodist Church, one of our 13 UMC Agencies. I also am the Chair of the Racial and Social Justice Task Force of Churches Uniting in Christ, an ecumenical group of communions, dedicated to the reconciliation of ministries and fighting racism, as well as representing the UMC at Christian Churches Together's Hispanic/Latinx Ministry Gatherings. Additionally, I am one of two committee members from the South Central Jurisdiction serving on the DisAbility Ministries Committee of the UMC. My polity pendulum often swings to both extremes so one never knows what they might find on this page!
This entry was posted in Charleston, Emanuel A.M.E. Church, Justice, law, mass shootings. Bookmark the permalink.

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