Bishop Pearson's Response to Connecticut Tragedy
Anger is a signal emotion. It signals emotion, commotion and in many cases, devotions in a person's life that have not been properly dealt with and, like a metastasizing cancer, has invaded and filled the organ, body or in this case psyche with lethal venom, violence, hurt and hatred.
In tragic and sad cases like what happened today at the elementary school in Connecticut today, I never judge or evaluate a person based on what they did, but what they were thinking and feeling 10 minutes before they did it. And additionally 10 hrs, days, weeks, months or even years before they did it. I'm reminded of the scripture in Proverbs13:12 that says: Hope deferred (delayed or prolonged) makes the heart sick. The Hebrew word sick (chalah) is translated rubbed (raw) worn, weak or weary. That is only a type of mental illness, but indeed a common one that most human beings have. Obviously the 24 yr old man and others who commit similar acts of atrocity have more severe cases of "hopes deferred" and heart grown weary.
Hopelessness, fear, anger, and ignorance are the 4 most prominent human emotions and commotions that contribute to these kinds of incidents and most of all other acts of violence on the planet.
This is not an isolated incident or reality, as we all well know. It has been happening with increasing repetition in this country. That this young man's intent was to kill his own mother, is an even more revealing, curious and critical concern. It is profoundly ironic, that no one can hurt or hate you, like someone you love or who loves you. This is a strange and bothersome conundrum for sure. In some ways, love is the most self-centered and self-serving word in the English dialect or dialogue (A whole other subject).
The other concern I have is the issue regarding the increasing use of guns in this country and why that is a growing concern and at epidemic levels across this nation.
The United States is ranked as having the highest gun ownership rate in the world, something like between 88 and 90 per 100 residents. A record-low 26% of Americans favor a legal ban on the possession of handguns in the United States other than by police and other authorized people. When Gallup first asked Americans this question in 1959, 60% favored banning handguns. But since 1975, the majority of Americans have opposed such a measure, with opposition above 70% in recent years.
How can a country that has, in many ways been dominated by churches, faith and a strong fundamentalist Christian influence have such fear, paranoia and militancy connected to its patriotism?
Gun violence is becoming like the weather report in daily news. At the rate we are going, newscasters may be reporting, if, when, where and how or how many people were killed in a given day as a result of gun violence on a regular basis. Eventually people become totally desensitized to this tragic state of affairs. It's like the cowboy gunslinging culture of yesterdays America.
It is actually easier to get guns than health insurance or health care in this country; far less red tape or Government bureaucracy. What does that say about our values and virtues as a nation? Religious extremists will call this the "judgment of God", but I call it judgment on years of entrenched religious indoctrination involving fear-based and faith biased theologies, that worship the construct of a God who hates, terrorizes and tortures anyone who doesn't fit into a particular religious doctrine, dogma or discipline. I am astounded at the number of so-called people of faith, including many Christians who adamantly support the NRA and own guns while worshipping the Prince of Peace. They obviously spell peace (piece) differently.
Interestingly, the lowest gun ownership rate among the 178 countries surveyed as of 2007 was reported from Tunisia, with 0.1 (or a total number of 9,000 guns), due to very strict gun control under the Ben Ali regime. The constitution there declares Islam as the official state religion and requires the President to be Muslim. Aside from the president, Tunisians enjoy a significant degree of religious freedom, a right enshrined and protected in its constitution, which guarantees the freedom to practice one's religion.
The country has a secular culture that encourages acceptance of other religions and religious freedom. Individual Tunisians are tolerant of religious freedom and generally do not inquire about a person's personal beliefs.
Again, the majority of Tunisia's population (around 98%) are Muslims while about 1% follow Christianity and the remaining 1% adhere to Judaism or other religions. The majority in the US is Christian and yet we have the highest prison population in the civilized world and the highest gun ownership rate.
We need to re-think what we believe, (about ourselves, God and our world), why we believe it and how those beliefs add to or subtract from the quality of our lives. Unfortunately, we haven't heard the last of this or incidents like it and we won't until we get to the source more than the symptom of this type mental despair. Where there is fruit, there is root!
Remember: The Christ presence in and as us, makes us brave when we're afraid, strong when we feel weak and go within when there seems to be shortage without. It's all good!
Peace is Possible!