Earlier this week, we learned of a shooting at a club in Tuscaloosa Alabama. The suspected shooter, who has since been arrested, is thought to have also committed several acts of vandalism and shot into a house before opening fire on patrons. Thankfully no one was killed, that I know of, but the horror of the tragedy to me is very disturbing. I can’t help but feel sympathy for the victims as well as the suspect’s family. My beliefs tell me to also feel for the suspect. It seems that he was going through a very rough patch in his life which led to the decision for violence. I find it impossible to do so, considering the pain his choices made. For the those involved, I hope and pray for full recovery, peace and healing in their lives.
Then this morning, we find that another person, for reasons yet unknown, opened fire inside a crowded movie theater, wounding many, and killing at least 12. It appears to have been planned in advance, as the suspect had also booby-trapped his apartment for the pending visit. Again, I am compelled with sympathy, and like many of us are asking why would anyone do such a horrible thing? We may never know all the answers, which can be frustrating, all we can do is mourn, offer prayers, support or assistance in any way we can.
Well one would think that.
Most, from presidential candidates to average people have responded in kind, offering prayers, sympathy and support. Both candidate immediately pulled negative campaign ads in Colorado deciding that the state needed a little less ugliness for a few days. Of course, I am sure many of us of us would like a lot less of those ads anyway, regardless of the situation, but it was a good call for both men.
Then we get folks like Rep. Louie Gohmert (R-Texas) who pretty much blamed the tragedy on “ongoing attacks on Judeo-Christian beliefs” I read that and thought “huh?” http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/07/20/louie-gohmert-aurora-shootings_n_1689099.html?1342794304
He also questioned why nobody else in the theater had a gun to take down the shooter. That statement is just about as ludicrous as some of the others statements he made in the interview he gave. The theater had a lot of noise and there was gunfire in the film. The theater was dark. It likely took the audience a moment to realize that what they were experiencing was more then just Batman and Bane kicking each other’s tail, but that a real horror had just arrived. Again, the theater was dark, people were screaming, trying to get to exits, so how in the hell can anyone figure out where the shooter was coming from, much less have enough calmness in their nature, to find, take aim and shoot the guy, without hitting someone else by mistake?
For Mr. Gohmert to even consider such actions to me just suggests to me that he really didn’t have a grasp on what occurred, and how quickly things can go to an enjoyable night at the movies to full scale disaster.
Of course he and others who think like that are entitled to their opinions, but what purpose does it serve? Does it offer any help to the victims? Does it offer any real or sensible solutions to help people who may have a mental health issue serious enough to cause them to act with such violence? Does it demonstrate a hint of compassion to the people impacted, from the victims, their families the theater workers, emergency personnel who had to deal with the fall-out of the acts of one person with violence and destruction on their agenda?
Which brings me to this whole “We are a Christian nation” idea. No, we aren’t. We are a nation of people from all walks of life, cultures and religious preferences. We live in a unique place that is supposed to have respect for the diversities that make us up. We are supposed to not try to force everyone to live by our ideological rules, then blame them when those rules fail to hold up to our ideals. It isn’t Christianity’s fault, or the lack of it, that cause’s senseless tragedies, it is people who for whatever reason decide to commit acts of violence on another. Those people are from every religious spectrum available.
I think at this time of the statement “Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called the children of God.” To me being a peacemaker is the opposite of he divide and conquer mentality of “Christians good/everyone else bad” that we hear more and more of. To me that is so far from what I see as Christian ideology I have to wonder where it gained popularity. To me being a person who follows Christ, means one tries to live by His examples. Its tough to do so, its quite impossible at times. It requires us to be merciful to everyone, to be gentle, to reach out to the hurting, to give what we have to those who have not. Living as a Christ follower means we need to be short on anger, long on compassion, to have patience, to forgive, to love.
Those are, of course impossible to do 100% of the time. Most of us can’t succeed on all or even half of the principals 50% of the time. But try we must. It is the crux of our faith, I believe. I don’t know if Rep. Gohmert was suggesting those principles in his interview, but I suspect he wasn’t. I find that I have a great difference with certain factions of my faith when it comes to purpose and ideology. That’s ok, as I believe God made us so diverse on purpose, and our nation’s founder took diversity into account when crafting our constitution. I happen to find Rep. Gohmert’s comments callous and unfeeling. Others will agree, others may disagree, some may want to insult me for my views. That’s another beauty of our nation. We have the freedoms to have open discussions, opinions and ideas. We don’t have to agree, like it or play along.
I will be joining many in our nation from the all branches of the Christian faith, the Jewish, Islamic and other faiths who do so, by praying for the victims in these two tragedies and their families. I will pray that we finally figure out a solution to help those in need, to end or greatly reduce the level of violence that has long plagued our nation, from large acts of violence such as these tragedies to the individual cases of violence such as the level of domestic violence that happens daily behind closed doors of many American homes. I will pray that we as a people, a diverse and wonderful people, will want to reach out to mourn together, and to heal together.
Martin Luther King, Jr. Said, “Violence is not only impractical but immoral.” I suspect he and many other prayed for a day when violence against others was so distasteful that it was rare. For all our sake, I pray for it as well.