Like many of you, I have reacted to the shootings in Tucson with horror, disgust and fear. Another terrorist act takes place, this time perpetrated by an American boy in Arizona.
I’m working on having compassion for the shooter, but am not there yet. The fact that he was smiling in his mug shot and smirking at the judge during the court hearing hasn’t helped. Evidently, Jared Loughner, who killed six people and left fourteen injured, is mentally impaired.
But the people are still dead, and Congresswoman Giffords is fighting for her life. There are some tough questions here.
I’m preaching next Sunday and was thinking about Martin Luther King and Jesus’ teachings on nonviolence in the context of the Tucson event and found myself up against this question: Is nonviolence a sustainable and realistic option in a culture and world that is saturated with hatred? Especially when this hatred is so easily disseminated in an instant via the Internet? And when our political speech is vitriolic and spews anger and threats – and when some of our public figures even suggest we arm ourselves and keep our enemies in the crosshairs of a rifle? Metaphoric? Well, not everyone gets metaphors. I’m not sure Jared Loughner would…
You realize, of course that we are all being systematically desensitized to violence, through our television programming, movies, the video culture, even our language. Just check with your teenagers. I will guarantee you they are not nearly as disturbed by images of graphic violence as those of us over forty. At least, that’s what my Blake students told me again and again…. “Oh, Ms. Mraz, toughen up – – that movie scene with the ax murderer is supposed to be funny… nobody takes it seriously.”
After a few hours of research and trying to pull this all together into the timeframe of a sermon, I realized that this is far too complex a topic – and is perhaps THE topic of our time right now—and deserves a broader investigation and discussion. To use the popular phrase, what would Jesus do? What did Jesus really teach about violence and nonviolence? How does that translate to Jared Loughner and Gabrielle Giffords and the blood-stained street corner in Tucson? To Congress? To going to the grocery store in St Paul, Minnesota?
We are naïve if we think that we are all safe. But remember that Jesus abhorred both passivity AND violence.
Is it time to dig into this? I’m thinking during our Wednesday evening midweek Lenten series… Let me know what you think.
And a story: Peggy just came into my office and told me that on her drive to work, she was behind a truck that was sanding and salting the highway. She licked her lips and tasted—-salt. She joked that she should sue the city if she gets high blood pressure.
We’re all vulnerable, one way or another. Things seep in…
Should we talk about this?
See you in church.