Last week I ended my reflection with a poem by e. e. cummings, “I thank you God for most this amazing.” That poem celebrated the natural wonder of the world as created by God. It is a most joyful poem using the kind of language that falls over itself in delight and ecstatic praise. The last two lines of the poem are
(now the ears of my ears awake and
now the eyes of my eyes are opened)
Being awake and opened can be a blessing. It can also be frightening. For the ears of my ears and the eyes of my eyes are not only awake and opened to the beauty of the world, but also to the horrors of the world.
Among those horrors is gun violence. Nearly every day our ears and eyes are informed of yet another mass shooting. They have become so prevalent that the shooting and murder or injury of one individual is hardly news. Wikipedia lists twenty-one mass shootings in the US since Easter Day, including four on Easter Day itself. These mass shooting have left thirty-seven people dead and seventy-four more injured. The locations are varied including Texas, Washington state, Michigan, Illinois, Tennessee, Indiana, and Connecticut. Many of the sites are urban, but there are suburban and rural sites as well.
In this Eastertide when we Christians are celebrating the resurrection of Jesus from the dead, we are putting our fellow citizens in the tomb at an alarming rate. The rate is so profound that we are becoming numb to it. Mass shootings are still stories above the fold and at the top of the hour. I cringe to think that there will be a time soon when that will not be the case: a day when they have become so commonplace and routine that celebrity gossip, and articles such as “Glowing skin for your wedding day” will replace these tragedies as headlines.
We, as Christians who believe that life is a sacred gift from God and that every single human being is blessed with the indwelling of God, must stop acting as though our thoughts and prayers are adequate. We should be outraged that an industry focused on profits over public safety and the sanctity of human life has such a powerful hold on our lives.
When will our love of God and God’s commandments finally overcome the hollow marketing ploys of the gun runners? When will we actually live into the Good News of Jesus who said, “love your neighbor as yourself”? When will the Prince of Peace become nearer and dearer than profit at any cost? When will the sanctity and sacredness of life, including the lives of children, mothers, fathers, grandparents, coworkers, bystanders, and police officers finally matter more than corporate profits?
God is waiting for us to answer those questions. Until we as a society are willing to take firm action to deal with the epidemic of gun violence, we are just as complicit in the violation of God’s commandment not to commit murder as the one who pulls the trigger.