I’ve a very good friend, an infectious disease specialist of some renown. She’s so good she can often diagnose what’s going on with a patient as soon as she enters their room, just by what she quickly hears, sees or smells. It’s uncanny really. She’s famous for catching what others miss, for being able to diagnose what baffles other doctors.
We don’t need a specialist to diagnose the cause of the epidemic of mass murders plaguing our country. I’m sitting this morning, sifting news from Gilroy, El Paso, Dayton… I wonder about the language we use to describe them. How terms from repeated reporting have become part of our everyday vocabulary. How predictable the cycle of information and public digestion is in the media; mass and social. How blind we seem to be to their cause. How paralyzed we seem to be to respond with anything more than “thoughts and prayers”.
And I’m pretty sure we aren’t even doing that. But just in case you are the thoughtful or prayerful type, think about this. Young men walking into crowded spaces and slaughtering random people is not incomprehensible. It’s symptomatic of a highly violent culture. Our history, sports, entertainment, politics, businesses, social and personal relationships are all so steeped in violence we rarely recognize it. These larger acts of violence erupt from the countless lesser acts we inflict and have inflicted on us every day. It’s as present as the air we breathe. It’s in our DNA. Now add to this a collective fetish with guns, idolization of selfishness, elevation of demeaning and dismissive discourse, and diminishing capacity true human connection and well…. While this type of behavior may seem shocking, it’s a “normal” outcome of our culture. What else should we expect?I honestly wonder at times why there aren’t more.
One of the reasons I’m a Christian is how I see the teachings of Jesus as the ultimate diagnosis and cure for the violence. Set aside for a moment all the baggage associated with Christians or the Church. Read Luke 6:17-49 and serious contemplate it’s message. Forget all the other jargon and spin, inane and toxic rhetoric of politicians, trolls and talk radio. Here is the diagnosis. Here is the cure.
While you’re at it. Give focused thought to the cost of just this little sliver of violence and where it’s heading. Remember the names of the real people who died, who were wounded, the families and friends they left behind, the countless witnesses and responders who carry the scars with them everyday.
And if you are the praying type, might I suggest we pray this: Abba Father, have mercy on us. Have mercy on those who mourn and grieve our latest acts of mass violence and slaughter. Have mercy on those who are wounded, those who care for them. Have mercy on the dead and all those who love them. Have mercy on those who perform and perpetuate such evil acts. In this we pray also for ourselves. We are all victims. We are all guilty. We are all without excuse.
Abba, grant us eyes to see, ears to hear, minds to discern and the courage and faith to face the reality of our situation. Keep us from turning back when we get answers we don’t like. Keep us from cowering in our superficial habits when we are overwhelmed by what it takes to really change. Keep us from perpetuating meaningless cliches when our tongues are terrified of speaking truth. Have mercy God, have mercy.