Meditation Monday: How Do We Move Toward Healing?

Our country is in a state of shock and mourning in the aftermath of two mass shootings within 24 hours of each other over the weekend. As of this writing 22 innocent people were murdered in El Paso, TX and 9 more innocent people were murdered in Dayton, OH. Sadly such mass shootings are not uncommon in our nation, and we are faced with the urgent questions, “How do we move toward healing?” While there is no simple solution, the proper diagnosis is essential. Almost everyone responds to these tragedies with thoughts and prayers for the victims, their families, and their communities. Yet by now we all know that thoughts and prayers are not enough. Earlier today the President spoke about the weekend shootings and focused on the monstrous nature of the gunmen and the need for swift retribution in the form of the death penalty. For some this may bring temporary relief through expressing feelings of anger and vengeance. Yet this does not lead to healing. As followers of Jesus, we believe that violence cannot be healed through more violence. While the death penalty kills individual perpetrators, it does not deter others who are committed to acting out their own hate and violence. Although there is no simple solution, there are steps we can take to decrease levels of hatred and violence that contribute to mass shootings. Two steps come to my mind and heart. First is to recognize and desist from using language that dehumanizes people. While the President is not directly responsible for the deaths of this weekend’s innocent victims, the language he consistently uses in his rallies fuels stereotypes and dehumanization especially of Latinx people. The killer in El Paso posted a racist hate-filled diatribe using the language of “Hispanic invasion” in ways similar to the President. It is imperative that we resist and call out such violent language from any source whether from a mass shooter, the President, or anyone else. Secondly it is essential to be clear that one thing mass killings have in common is the use of assault type weapons that are designed for firing off many rounds of ammunition as quickly as possible. The brave police responders in Dayton were able to end the shooting within less than a minute, but nine people were killed and many more injured because the gunman used a weapon designed for mass murder. The El Paso gunman also used an assault weapon.There is no justifiable reason why such weapons are legally available in our nation. We can certainly have responsible gun ownership while making assault weapons and high capacity magazines illegal. I hope we will all pray for the victims, families, and communities of this weekend’s mass shootings. I also hope that we will be determined to move toward healing by confronting hate speech from any source and working for sensible gun control.

El Paso Shooting Vigil 2.jpg
El Paso Shooting Vigil.jpg