From Violence to Peace
July 12, 2016
"Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted." Mt. 5:4
- Five police officers killed by a lone gunman in Dallas, Texas.
- Two black men killed by police officers in different cities on consecutive days.
- Forty-nine killed in an Orlando, Florida nightclub.
- One Member of Parliament gunned down while listening to her constituents.
We grieve with those who have lost members of their families or loved ones in the recent acts of violence in the United States and in the United Kingdom. Losing a loved one is never easy, and loss to such meaningless acts of violence is all the more devastating. We grieve also for ourselves and our societies when so many believe that acts of violence will somehow right a wrong, exact justice, or bring peace. The notion of redemptive violence is a myth on which far too many of us were raised, a myth in which too many still believe.
We pray and we remember that "Christ is our Peace." Constitution 2 This is an opportunity for us each to ask ourselves, "How can we root out the violence in our own hearts?" Perhaps regularly using our weekly Peace Prayer will move us in the right direction. Can you find someone with whom to share this prayer weekly?
We commit to end the spiraling violence of war, terrorism, lone gunmen, angry voters and divisive politicians. We should distinguish between the solitary acts of violence, like the shooting of the Dallas police officers, perpetrated by an individual or small groups, and the systemic injustice that causes so many young black men to die at the hands of police officers. The latter requires the serious work of identifying and bringing light to the inherent racism in our societies lately revealed not only in the deaths of black men with such regularity, but also in the vocal rejection of immigrants and refugees. If we do not understand how our societies are racialized, we owe it to ourselves, and our nations to find out how racism is embedded in our cultures. This is not about personal attitudes or prejudices, but about injustice built into our economic and social systems that assign burdens to people of color and privileges to those who are white. To assist in this, consider attending or following up on the upcoming Pax Christi USA conference mentioned in the recent NewsNotes, or contact Frank McCann, our Peace through Justice Facilitator for more resources.
We organize using the social and political systems at our disposal to end the rising crescendo of gun violence. If everyone has a right to a gun, then no one has an "unalienable right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness." The current gun culture leads to people living in fear which benefits only the gun manufacturers and their profit-seeking lobbyists. We believe no citizen should have access to a military assault weapon, and we understand that such a belief is open to objection, but that should only lead to an open, hopefully constructive national dialogue, not escalating sales of assault rifles.
The late Elie Wiesel, a witness to and victim of unbelievable violence as a youth, wrote: "The opposite of love is not hate, but indifference." Because the violence may not have touched us personally as yet, does not permit us to be indifferent to the suffering of others. This is a time of challenge to every member of this Congregation to find out how each of us will live our charism in the face of such violence that we might become "peace in our families, our church and our societies."
May peace be with us, among us and through us all.