Guns (again)

It is one of the most disturbing stories in the Christian Scriptures, and every time I read it in church, I am filled with sadness and anger. The Wise Men have left Jesus and His family and gone home to avoid King Herod, having learned of Herod’s duplicity, and when the King learns of their escape, he sends soldiers to massacre all the children in the region under 2 years old. Herod knew that his rival was male, but decided to wipe out the girls too, just to be sure, I guess. The passage, which is the only time her name is used in the Christian Scriptures, is from Matthew 2, “A voice was heard in Ramah, wailing and loud lamentation, Rachel weeping for her children; she refused to be consoled, because they are no more.” Joseph and Mary were right to illegally cross the border into Egypt to save Jesus; if they had not, they would have been wailing and lamenting with the many other parents whose children were no more.

In Tennessee this week there was another school shooting; 3 children and 3 adults murdered by a woman in her late 20’s. We know little else about this homegrown terrorist or the victims; what we do know is that there are parents of 3 children, and families of 3 adults, we are wailing and lamenting because their loved ones are no more. There have been 13 school shootings in America in 2023; we have just started the 14th week of the year. One shooting a week – in schools. There have been 130 mass shootings in this country over the same period (that we know of); that’s 10 a week. And our politically elected officials are arguing about Drag Queens and same-sex marriage and wokeness. The mass proliferation of weapons in this country has nothing to do with any of that; the unwillingness to address the ease of gun buying in most of the country tends to fall into the category of protecting the 2nd Amendment. Few “woke” people I know are on that side of the argument. 

As a nation, we have a lot of problems happening all at once. We have a national emergency when it comes to mental illness and the lack of care that is available. We have a nationwide problem with affordable housing and food for lower-income families. We have an unwillingness to admit that we are killing the planet. We have a gun addiction. And we are drowning in our division, unwilling to admit that we have a problem. Telling the truth is the first step toward solving a problem. And all we do is lie.

In the three years I have done these daily thoughts, I have written about guns at least 60 times. That’s about 8% of my thoughts. I, like many of us, have been frustrated by the unwillingness of a large part of the population to work towards common sense answers. We won’t ban guns, and we shouldn’t. We also shouldn’t have the kind of access to weapons we have. Most of us agree about this; it is only the most fringe and, to be honest, insane segments of our population who do not see the need for change. It isn’t so much that we are siloed on this issue – it’s because we are cowards, unwilling to elect people who will do the right thing. 

So, we will watch and wait for the next massacre – the next group of parents wailing and not being consoled – until it happens again. Maybe in a town near you. Maybe to your family. And we will cry and wring our hands and pontificate. Until the next massacre…

Prayer – Oh God, hear our mourning and our frustration and need, for we are wailing and mourning with Rachel and every person who has lost a loved one to gun violence. Heal our warring madness and convict our hearts. Amen.

Today’s art is “Massacre of the Innocents” (1824) by Leon Cogniet.