When you pray
If you pray
Then move your feet.
If the actions of your life
Don’t follow the words of your prayer
Your words are empty
And don’t mean a thing.
Early on Sunday morning, a young man walked into a Waffle House in Nashville, TN armed with an AR-15 semi-automatic rifle and began shooting killing four people and wounding four others. When he paused to reload, his gun was wrestled from him and he fled. My online news feed is filled with comments about the silence of elected officials in the wake of this shooting. No thoughts and prayers. No reaction about another white terrorist or why so many young, white males commit acts like this. No comment that the shooter was white and the victims were black. I know with certainty that if the shooter was black or Muslim or an immigrant and the victims were white the reaction would be far different.
But the silence I am most concerned about is not theirs, but ours.
According to Gun Violence Archive, for the week ending April 23, 717 people were killed or injured by guns. That is more than 100 people/day! The year to date number through April 23 is 12,065. 12,065! That is roughly the population of the suburban community in which I live. But unless the shootings occur at some place like a school, the devastating effect of gun violence barely registers with us. It is so common it just is. An everyday occurance 100 times each day.
I don’t know what a workable solution is.
But I know my/our silence adds to our inability or unwillingness to find one. Only when enough of us – both those of us who do not own guns and those who do and who use and care for their guns responsibility – begin to speak up and to say “Enough” will we begin to find a way to lower that number. And that number is, after all, people like you and me.
People with families.
People who will not celebrate their next birthday.
People who will not have another dinner with their loved ones.
Are we really okay with 700 of our neighbors being killed or injured each week by guns?
Last week 756 people were killed or injured by guns.
This year 8187 people have been killed or injured by guns.
Including 701 children and youth.
Firearm-related deaths are the third leading cause of death overall among U.S. children aged 1 to 17 years.
Today, led by high school students, hundreds of thousands of people in over 800 communities across our country have walked out their doors and into our streets to say #EnoughIsEnough.
They have decided.
Now it is our turn.
When are the rest of us going to catch up with our children?
And add our voice to theirs?
On Monday afternoon, October 31, Habinullaevic Saipov drove a rented truck down the a busy bike path in New York City killing 8 people and injuring a dozen more. Our response was immediate. Shock. Sadness. Anger. Outrage. Once again we asked how and why something like this could happen.
In no way do I want to minimize the tragedy of what happened or the unbearable grief of those families and friends who have lost loved ones. But, in the aftermath of the event I found myself wondering about our outrage which so often seems like just a flash in the pan and then nothing. We should be shocked and outraged by what happened. And, ask what happened to a young man who was thoroughly vetted when he came to this country and then was radicalized. Something happened. What?
But, sometimes it seems to me events like this provide a protective covering which allows us to forget or to ignore statistics like these. Realities we should be equally outraged about. On the same day Habinullaevic Saipov killed 8 people in New York City:
- 7 children and teens died from gun violence
- 11 people in our country died because of hunger
- 123 died because of lack of access to adequate healthcare
- 175 died due to a drug overdose
- 685 people were victims of a hate crime
- 1300 people died due to an illness caused by smoking
- 7 women died as a result of domestic violence
This all happens around us.
Right around us.
Each and every day.
We need to be outraged.
By all of it.
And then we need to summon the courage to do something about it.
The number of people killed or wounded in the shooting in Las Vegas:
59 killed. More than 500 wounded.
The cause: mental illness.
Not his, but ours.
Yours and mine.
The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over
and expecting a different result.
San Bernardino, CA
Colorado Springs, CO
Isla Vista, CA
Fort Hood, TX
Do I need to go on?
It is easy to just point fingers and to blame others.
But, finger pointing and blaming is part of the illness.
I am afraid we have not hit the bottom yet, because we have not yet decided we need to get better.
The headline today is about the shooting of innocent people in Aurora, CO. From what I have read, a gunman tossed tear gas into a crowded movie theater and then when people exited he shot them. The latest news is that there we 12 dead and 59 people wounded, many of the critically. Senseless.
Once again we are faced with the reality that almost anyone can buy a gun, and not just a gun, but an semi-automatic rifle that will shot as fast as one can pull the trigger. The NRA and other pro-gun groups will once again defend the right for anyone to purchase and own a gun. On the other side, the Brady Campaign, and countless mayors and police departments across the country will beg for some sort of sanity when it comes to gun sales and gun ownership. We live in the tension between the right “to bear arms” and the right to live in safety and to not be afraid of gunmen walking into a movie theater or a student walking into a school or a child killed in his bed because of a drive by shooting. Right now the the pro-gun groups are winning and the rest of us are losing.
In response to this tragedy the President has called for a day of prayer and reflection. Other updates today on Facebook and Twitter have been expressions of prayer for the people of Aurora, CO. All of which I understand and support. And, I have and will add my prayers. But one post I saw made more sense than all the rest. It read, “Prayers are never enough. And prayers are no excuse not to face up to the problem. We have a culture of violence and easy access to guns.”
Finally, something that makes sense.