[“GOOD MEN trashed,” Cambridge Common, Cambridge, MA]
Here we are again. Another slaughter and its ghastly, rote aftermath of stunned horror and outrage and flowers strewn, impromptu shrines erected—and prayer meetings and stand-outs and the NRA not missing a beat to issue its usual, obdurate public statement and, again, demands for gun control and better mental health policies and politicians spouting whatever they believe plays best with their constituency: “Tear down that Confederate flag!” “It was an accident!”
And something stunningly different: The families of the victims uttering the word “forgiveness.” Oh, my.
As I contemplate what I am called to do in the face of another horror perpetuated by another slight, white young man—Dylan Roof, Jahar Tsarnaev, James Holmes, Adam Lanza, Elliot Rodger, Dylan Klebold—those young men’s wide eyes haunt me, beg me to pay attention to the pain behind their eyes. Ask me to at least pray over that pain. Ask me to consider—with compassion if possible—why these young, slight, American males* murdered school children or movie-goers or families watching the Boston Marathon or college students on a Friday night or people of color in the sanctuary of their own church.
That the Emanuel [God is with us] African Methodist Episcopal Church victims’ families offered forgiveness as their contribution to our mourning nation’s conversation BEGS us to get beyond rhetoric and “We’re all complicit” and stridency. Yes, by all means let’s talk about slavery and racism and the white supremacy movement and mental illness and gun control; absolutely. And let’s talk about violence, war, let’s talk about bullying, messaging, gender expectations; let’s connect dots. Let’s get to work, the hard work of going deep, searching, praying for guidance. Yes.
* Jahar Tsarnaev was naturalized on September 11, 2012