After The 251st Mass Shooting of 2019
As of Sunday, the number of mass shootings in America has outpaced the number of days in the year. We passed the 216th day of the year with 251 mass shootings in 2019. Sadly, this is the second time this has happened--the first time was in 2016.
In the past eight days alone, 35 people have been killed and 81 people have been injured as a result of mass shootings, which took place in the following places: a community festival, two Walmarts, a shopping district and a block party.
Yesterday, as I scanned through the responses to the shootings from my Facebook friends, the contrast of opinions between my more progressive friends as opposed to my conservative friends, was fairly sharp.
But for the most part, it was the same old, tired stuff---peppered with "thoughts and prayers" being sent to the victims and their families.
Our kids are growing up in a society where mass shootings are commonplace. The shock and horror that we used to feel have been replaced by numbness, complacency, and a growing sense of helplessness and resignation.
It reminds me of a story Anthony de Mello once told about a guy who got on a bus in London carrying a huge unexploded WWII era shell.
The bus driver immediately questioned him, "Hey mate, what do you have there, now?" The guy replied that he'd dug it up in his yard and was taking it to the police station.
"Here now, that's dangerous, mate." The driver said. "You need to put that under the seat."
Sadly, Christians seem to be at the forefront of this kind of response to the violence and hatred that seems to be permeating our culture right now. We are quick to send our thoughts and prayers, but not so quick to do the hard work of peacemaking that we are called to by Jesus himself.
We'd rather just put the unexploded bomb under the seat than face the truth about what Jesus might be calling us to do and to say. Because in order to be peacemakers, we might have to actually reevaluate our strongly held beliefs, our ideas about those who disagree with us, and the gravity of our situation.
The bottom line is this: No one in their right mind wants mass shootings. No one. But when we turn the arguments and debates away from root causes, and common-sense solutions, it's like putting the bomb under the seat.
So today, instead of just sending your thoughts and prayers to those affected by these recent tragedies, do something. Show your faith in Jesus by living out your faith in Jesus in real and actionable ways.
And it doesn't have to be a big thing at first. Start a conversation with friends and neighbors about how to end the hatred and fear that results in violence.
Teach your children that hate-filled, bigoted, racist and xenophobic words and beliefs are antithetical to the message of Christ. And you should do your best to listen to people who disagree with you and seek common ground where you can find it.
This is a beginning but by no means the end of what we need to do as Christ-followers to help bring the kingdom of God to light.
May you defiantly seek peace each and every day by your words and your deeds. And may the grace and peace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you now and always. Amen.