‘WHAT DO WE SAY’ TO MORE VIOLENCE?
(Editor’s Note: Five people were stabbed during a Hanukkah party in New York on Saturday. During Sunday morning services, two members of West Freeway Church of Christ in White Settlement were shot to death by a gunman, who also was killed. Cliff Stewart, president of the Abilene Association of Congregations, provided the following comments.)
By CLIFF STEWART
President, Abilene Association of Congregations
From news reports:
“The number of mass shootings across the U.S. thus far in 2019 has outpaced the number of days this year, according to a gun violence research group. Before this year has even ended, 2019 has already had more mass shootings than any year since the research group started keeping track.
As of December 25, the 359th day of the year, there had been 406 mass shootings in the U.S., according to data from the nonprofit Gun Violence Archive (GVA), which tracks every mass shooting in the country. Twenty-nine of those shootings were mass murders.
The GVA defines a mass shooting as any incident in which at least four people are shot, excluding the shooter. The group also tracks mass murders as defined by the FBI — incidents in which at least four people are killed. The FBI does not have a formal definition of a mass shooting.”
Of course, this news report has grown as of this past Sunday with a shooting in a church here in Texas and a stabbing in a synagogue in New York.
What do we say? Is this the way it is going to be – “just another day in the USA”?
There are two very understandable and immediate reactions: calls for prayer and calls for legislation.
And then, you know what happens – two camps are formed. Those who want to meet tragedy with prayer, and those who want to meet tragedy with more rules and regulations.
There are those who say “prayers ain’t going to fix this.” And there are those who say “legislation isn’t the answer either.”
I’m not going to say one is right as opposed to the other. Neither position in and of itself is right. The problem is evil and the human heart. Except for cases of mental illness, these acts of violence are perpetrated by evildoers. The acts themselves are evil, and the people doing them are pursuing evil.
The truth about our American culture is less than a proliferation of guns and more about a proliferation of violence unchecked by spirit or character.
Color our nation “angry.” Road rage, bullying, rape, sexual harassment, child abuse, spousal abuse – can you add to the list?
We don’t limit our response to be one way as opposed to another. Yes, we must offer our prayers…and we do. And on the other hand, we need legislation that addresses dangerous loopholes or weaknesses regarding the purchase of guns that does not negate our freedom in the Second Amendment.
Bottom line from my vantage point as the president of the Abilene Association of Congregations is a call to prayer AND also the hope that our legislators “together” can work together something that creates a safer place for us to live.
Dear God, none of us can offer simple solutions to the evil that permeates our world. We ask you, O Prince of Peace, to make a difference in all of our hearts. And we promise to do what we can to create a just and safe environment for us to live. Amen.