Violence, whether in Uvalde and in Ukraine is our way of life
It doesn't have to be like this.
‘Peace, peace,’ they say,
when there is no peace.
There is little reason for me to go into any depth explaining the events of the past few weeks. On the heels of the mass shooting of Black grocery shoppers in Buffalo that left ten dead, 19 children in Uvalde died in a single act of violence.
As someone with deeply held political views regarding gun laws, I am filled with anger that these events are allowed to go on, unabated, while elected leaders on both sides of the aisle refuse to act. Along with many others, I am angered that money talks much louder than a genuine concern for life.
I am also struck by the normalization of violence in every part of our society. Just this past week our congress voted virtually unanimously to send $40 billion extra in “aid,” which consists of US-made military weapons to Ukraine. Today also marks the two year anniversary of George Flyod’s murder at the hands of the police.
To say that our nation, its leaders and media embraces violence would be an understatement. The moral decay touches every part of our lives. This, while parents can’t afford baby formula, none of us can afford gas and half of the money that went to weapons to Ukraine could end homelessness in America. Our priorities as a nation are - to use an Old Testament term - an abomination.
As a father, however, I can only connect with the grief. With the fear. With the emptiness that death brings. With the reality that, in addition to all the other fears attendant with being a parent, we are now burdened with a danger we have no way of proactively avoiding.
I have so little to say because so much of me refuses to entertain the worst case scenario. Perhaps this is a self-protection strategy but I cannot bear to look at this latest shooting with any level of detail. Frankly, I feel hopeless enough to do anything as it is and I cannot imagine that learning more details is what my soul needs. At least for today.
As a Christian, and as a theologian by training, I desperately want to get to Jeremiah’s later message of “comfort, comfort my people.” I do not envy the first responders, the counselors or the clergy that must embody this hope in spite of their own grief. They must do this without words of comfort. Because it will never be alright. The death of a child will never be avenged. The pain will never go away. And yet hope must be embodied when it is tested beyond any limit.
When I started to write this short reflection I did out of a sense that I needed at least to make a record of my own grief. About the pit in my stomach about what could be. And what is, for too many families.
The more I wrote though, the more I have felt anger. Frankly I don’t give a fuck if it’s righteous or not. But it is there. I am angry that I am helpless to protect my children. I am furious that, as a result of endless piles of money from arms manufacturers our leaders are coopted into making bullshit statements rather than concrete change.
For now I can live in the moment. I can hold my beloved ones close. I can fight to remain in the present reality in which I live and move and have my being. That, as always, is my imperative.
But I am also enraged, like the prophets were. Like so many people are, regardless of their religious or political stripes. I am enraged at the bitter incomprehensibility of death.
And I refuse to believe this is the way it needs to be.