there are some many conversations starting and restarting across the united states of america right now regarding gun violence, mental health, religion in schools, religion in general and even regarding our school systems in general.
and these are very good conversations to have.
my question: why, in heaven’s name, does it take a tragic event for us to come into these conversations with the sort of zeal and gusto that i suspect are all over facebook, twitter, television news and even the radio? i have been purposefully not looking at my facebook news feed, reading anything on twitter, i don’t own a television and i turn off the radio when someone starts postulating. i don’t have to look because i feel like i know the people of this country well enough to remember reactions to 9/11, the colombine shooting, and the shooting in aurora, colorado and any number of other incidents that have taken place during my lifetime.
those who already want to discuss gun violence and the laws that this country has regarding carrying weapons are shouting their affirmation for “the right to bear arms” and saying things like “well i carry a Glock everyday and i’m not planning on doing this sort of thing” loudly and proudly. and those who are on the other side of the fence are probably posting things like statistics and stories regarding those lives lost due to weaponry in civilian hands and maybe even condemning the use of force outside of our own land and upon other people through hot war, drones and the like.
both sides are saying the things they already think–perhaps even using religious language to make their argument as to why they must be correct–both sides will shout and spew, hem and haw, shout and scream until they’re blue in the face.
as tends to happen in this country, this zeal and vitriol–this passion and firm belief that “things need to change!” or “things need to stay the way they are!” will fade back into the background of everyday life and life will get on as usual. there are, of course, christmas presents to finish purchasing and wrapping–family to cook for–and day to day frustrations that will take the fore of our minds and we will feel ‘safe’ again.
this, somewhat, brings me back to my question: why does it take a “threat” on our “security” and the loss of many lives for us to have this conversation?
perhaps more importantly: why, after these questions are raised, do we not create a larger over-arching space for these conversations and debates to be made? are we, as the people of the united states, even currently capable of having these conversations together without screaming and yelling–without closing our ears to what the other side is trying to say? are we even capable of coming together and having a conversation where we do not just assume that we already know the outcome?
because, dear people, i fear that in many ways we are not ready to have this conversation with each other.
it hasn’t been a deep and overarching conversation with anyone who disagrees with us–but with those who we know are “on our side.”
i implore you to let go of what you “think” take a hold of jesus and start having conversations, real conversations where each member listens to what the other has to say with grace and an open heart regarding violence, guns, mental health, schools, safety and even this jesus fellow.
stop postulating. start listening.
and for the love–pray.