Violence is pervasive in our nation. On this, the morning after what is now being called the deadliest mass shooting in modern American history, I am wondering why. Why is violence, both large scale like the violence last night in Las Vegas, and the smaller everyday occurrences of violence that happen all around us, a central part of our story? Why is there so much violence in the United States of America? In a land full of opportunity and privilege, we do daily violence to ourselves and one another. To what sources can we trace the root of our pain?
I do not know the answer to my question. I do not know why violence is stitched into the very fabric of who we are. However, I am fascinated by the reality that white settlers came to the Americas to escape mass persecution in their respective European homes, only to come to these shores and rain down violence, the likes of which the world had not seen before. I am troubled by the fact that colonizers traveled the world, invading lands previously held by black and brown people, introducing the demons of guns and disease. It consistently amazes me that those who traveled the world to conquer it in the name of a Christian God and to civilize so-called savages introduced the kind of violence that has become only too common in the so-called Western world. It is incredible that the civilized behave like unenlightened savages. That sixteenth and seventeenth-century spirit of violent colonization continues to this day.
Why do the freest people in the world, the people this free society was created to serve, why do they choose violence? Why do they choose to sow seeds of fear? My best theoretical mind might answer, power, or greed, or perhaps even fear. All those answers might be correct. I don’t know. What I do know, is that we must work to end the pervasive violence in our nation. We must work to end domestic violence, sexual assault, bullying, terrorism, gun violence, and all other types of violence that exist in our world today. We must name violence for what it is in no uncertain terms and rebuke it unequivocally.
Our very planet is groaning under the weight of our violent assaults on Creation. Those of us who believe that prayer changes things choose to pray for a better day. We commend the spirits of those we have loved and lost into the arms of their loving Creator. But, any religion that tells us that we are not co-laborers with a Divine power is not efficacious.
There is work for us to do. There is work for us to do to love our neighbors-your neighborhood includes every citizen of the planet. There is work for us to do to love mercy-that means being gracious in a world that has not always been gracious to you. There is work for us to do to be kind-we must be gentle and peaceful in a world that can be mean and harsh. There is work for us to do justice-that is making unlevel ground level. My friends, there is work for us to do, but we do not do it alone. We do it with the aid of a loving God. We also work alongside human companions. The rampant violence we see around us sometimes tricks us into believing that there is more bad than good in the world, but we were created to be partners with each other. We were created to bring the Kingdom of God to Earth together. All around you people are active in the work of world transformation. We push toward the common goal of freedom together. Come, let us creatively resist together.