This morning I turned on my computer and looked at my social media feeds, knowing full well what awaited me. My liberal friends were posting blurbs about President Obama’s speech last night in the wake of the latest mass shooting. They praised his call to end gun violence and the need for greater gun control in the country. As I scrolled down I saw my conservative friends were posting blurbs about the ineffectiveness of gun control laws in various cities around the country. All of these posts annoyed me.
They annoyed me primarily because I did not see a single call to prayer for the families harmed by the shooting. A terrible tragedy happens in this country and our response is to bring up tired political rhetoric. There is a whole community grieving in Oregon and our response is to bring up a political battle. I believe our first response in such a situation should be similar to the response of Job’s friends in Job 2:11-12, “Now when Job’s three friends heard of all these troubles that had come upon him, each of them set out from his home– Eliphaz the Temanite, Bildad the Shuhite, and Zophar the Naamathite. They met together to go and console and comfort him. When they saw him from a distance, they did not recognize him, and they raised their voices and wept aloud; they tore their robes and threw dust in the air upon their heads. They sat with him on the ground seven days and seven nights, and no one spoke a word to him, for they saw that his suffering was very great.” These friends settled into Job’s grief and mourned with him. On days like today our response should not be political fighting it should be calls to prayer.
Second, when the time does come to discuss the issue of gun control, please let’s do it from and intelligent perspective. Yes, we definitely need to curtail the firearm violence in this country, and that does mean some form of gun control. Also, yes, gun control as has been implemented thus far has seemed rather ineffective. And, no, I have no solutions to the problem, though one not often talked about is how Hollywood portrays guns and violence. I have often heard that my parents’ generation grew up on “Gunsmoke”, “Bonanza”, and “The Rifleman” all of which frequently portrayed firearms. Though this is true, as I watch these shows (and others of the same time) I notice that guns are often a last resort and violence is abhorred. Often the comparison is “that” guns are portrayed rather than asking “how” they are portrayed.
But, that discussion can wait, today is about a call to prayer and mourning. I believe serious change will occur when (and only when) we take the human loss seriously, entering into that loss. To make this tragedy about politics on either side is to devalue the loss. Please take time out of your day to pray for this community.