After the recent shooting, I won’t write about gun control, preventing future tragedies or--as U.S. Senator Mitch McConnell calls it--politicizing an issue.
I won’t write that the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over while expecting different results or about how whenever dozens are gunned down on American soil all we send are hopes and prayers, backed up by no action.
I won’t write that after Sandy Hook, Columbine, Pulse, San Bernadino, Virginia Tech, Charleston, Aurora and enough mass shootings across this country every year to fill this newspaper, the political party that calls itself "pro-life" does nothing to prevent these countless deaths.
I won’t write about how the National Rifle Association has transformed in the last several decades from a group that promoted gun safety to one that defends gun violence and enshrines it in our laws with their lobbyists and bribes.
I won’t write about this because talking about politics after a tragedy is impolite. Because trying to reduce senseless violence in this country is obviously just a cynical partisan move for more votes. Because the very same folks who want to build walls to protect us from the allegedly violent, job-stealing immigrants they fear move on and turn a blind eye to the actual threat of guns fired by deranged white men born in this country.
I won’t mention how we claim to care about terrorism while making it easy for terrorists to buy machine guns.
I won’t write about this because our national psyche is so messed up that if we push for action to prevent these tragedies, people say we’re politicizing a tragedy, and then those same folks use 9/11, our nation’s greatest recent tragedy, to push their own racist agenda.
I won’t mention how in the next few days, or even before this is published, we’ll go through the same cycle we go through every few months in this country when dozens are murdered at once. One side will say this is no time for a debate, while the other will make the obviously absurd notion that the greatest country in the world has imperfect laws. Oh, those silly liberals trying to make a difference. How un-American. If you criticize America, you clearly hate it. Obviously.
I won’t write about how otherwise idealistic and optimistic people like myself are driven to sadness and uncharacteristically sarcastic writing styles on arguably the most depressing problem our nation faces.
I won’t write about how a good friend of mine felt sick all day upon hearing the news Monday and took the day off to reflect and recover from this tragedy, nor that the rest of us are so desensitized to this that we mostly went on with our days, as the GOP and their NRA owners would like us to.
I won’t write about how mass shootings are considered normal in this country.
But I won't give up hope, either.
I will write that the majority of our nation claims to follow Christ, whose disciples wrote that “Faith by itself, if it does not have works, is dead,” (James 2:17) and that prayers are fairly ineffectual if we don’t act on them.
I will write that we must actively be the change we wish to see in the world and that just as one who lives by the sword dies by the sword (Matthew 26:52), a nation that lives by the gun shall die by the gun--until we stop glorifying and freely selling guns.
By telling us not to politicize an issue, McConnell is politicizing the issue and maintaining the status quo. Hopes and prayers are all well and good, but to quote Pope Francis, “You pray for the hungry. Then you feed them. That’s how prayer works.”
We can also interpret that this week as “You pray for victims of gun violence, and then you stop selling machine guns to the public.” That’s how prayer works.
If you took a truck, filled it with hopes and prayers and sent it to victims of Hurricanes Harvey, Irma or Maria, the people would see that the truck was empty.
That’s how our legislators have been responding to mass shootings.
I will point out Mr. Rogers’ mother’s quote: “You will always find people who are helping,” and that we ourselves can be helpers and bring light to a dark world.
Our school’s motto invites us to see the light of a loving God, who calls on us to drop our swords and invite others to do the same, and to remember Helen Keller’s truth that “the only lightless dark is the night of ignorance.” Keller, who could neither see nor hear, still found light in a very dark world, and we can too, but only if we build a universe of light together.
This weekend, at the Homecoming Choral Concert, I had the opportunity to premiere a song as part of the Valparaiso University Chorale, which was commissioned for the 500th Anniversary of the Reformation. To anyone with fear, which this week is all of us, let us follow the advice of the first lyric of this piece, a quote from Swami Vivekananda:
“Come out into the universe of light. Everything in the universe is yours. Stretch out your arms and embrace it with love.”
Let us march forward from the darkness of hatred and legally enshrined violence and into the light of peace and love.
The views expressed are those of the writer and not necessarily those of The Torch.