There has been another shooting at another school. It has happened again, and I cannot honestly say that I am surprised. The shooting in Oregon was terrible, but was it shocking? Was it as surprising as so many people keep saying?
I really do not think that it was. I wish that it had been shocking and surprising because that would mean that this does not happen all the time. It would mean that we live in a place that valued lives more than guns, and that has not proven to be true.
This shooting did not shock me, nor did it surprise me. It made me hurt for the families who lost their loved ones. It made me aware, once again, of how easily accessible guns are. It made me sad to imagine how much pain the families of past victims of gun violence must be feeling.
It made me think particularly of the families of the children who died in the Sandy Hook shooting. Were they surprised that this happened again? Or did they give up on hope for change when even the violent deaths of those twenty babies changed nothing?
The shooting in Oregon, above anything else, made me angry. I am angry that this happens over and over again with no change. I am angry that the response to these shootings is so often that we just need more guns. But honestly, I am more angry that a large portion of our society seems to have given up on caring about gun violence.
I opened my Facebook page after the shooting and found people arguing. These arguments were not about what I would have thought. These arguments were about whether or not God would want two people who love each other to be married. These arguments were not about the current state of mind of America, not about which thing God would love more: the National Regulatory Authority (NRA) or the people who are being killed each and every day by guns.
A song that I have had stuck in my head for a few days is Christina Perri’s “I Believe.” Besides just being a lovely song, there is a line in the second verse that makes me pause every time: “I believe that the darkness reminds us where light can be.”
Is there any better way to process what happened at that college in Oregon, or that church in Charleston, or in that elementary school in Sandy Hook? There is so much darkness that finding any light at times seems impossible. The violence that our country considers normal is simply too much, and I am tired of it.
I am tired of hearing stories of children who learn where to hide in their classrooms so that a gunman will not be able to see them. I am tired of hearing about churches with security guards because otherwise people will not feel safe. I am tired of a reality in which people are on edge at the mall, the movie theater, in church.
I am tired of it, but there is no end in sight. I do not see a light at the end of this tunnel of violence, but even so, I have to believe that there is at least a little bit of room for that light.
I have to believe that there is room for light in this tunnel because I know a God who cares more about the lives of people than the NRA. For me, this is a matter of faith. I cannot believe that the lack of legislation on guns is right because I cannot believe that the deaths of so many people due to gun violence is right.
I cannot believe that it is right that there are people more afraid of dying as a result of gun violence than they are afraid of dying from the cancer that is attacking their bodies. This is not okay, and yes, I know that that there are so many issues that need to be tackled along with the easy access of guns.
I know that economic injustice is real and needs to change. I know that mental illness is stigmatized and that there is a lack of treatment options. I know that this is not an easy issue to address.
But how many more shootings will it take for us to step up? How many more children of God are going to die before we reach our breaking point? How many more?
There is possibility for light here, and we are letting it go by. We know what we are doing. When this happens again, I pray that instead of being shocked and surprised, we wake up and get moving.