Articles

One Who Can Do Something

December 3, 2015 by

Another day, another mass shooting – that’s the thought that ran through my head Wednesday afternoon as news spread of gunmen shooting up a center for people with disabilities in San Bernardino, California, killing at least fourteen as of this writing. And this one hit me in the gut a little more than other recent shootings (Colorado Springs, Umpqua, Charleston... where should I stop?) as I have a sister with Down Syndrome and can imagine the anguish that will trouble such delicate souls who witnessed any part of this bloodshed.

The response is predictable: our President resignedly makes another weary statement, rightly naming the dreadful recurrence of these acts as “a pattern” with “no parallel anywhere else in the world,” but offering little else. Other politicians, and political hopefuls, tweet the now-almost-comically empty “hopes and prayers” platitudes that allow them to move on quickly while scoring points for being concerned. But it’s nigh-impossible to move on in the United States right now: the Washington Post has been tallying mass shootings (defined as those with four or more victims) this year, and terrifyingly, there have been 355 already – and December 2 was the 336th day of the year. Which city will suffer next? Which SWAT team will finally see live action? Which understaffed hospital will be overrun?

And does it even matter anymore what race or creed the perpetrators were? At least two of the suspects in this event were apparently Muslims – does that make the mourning of the victims’ families any different than if they had been religious anti-abortion crusaders, or white supremacists, or lonely video game addicts? The dead are still dead, whoever killed them. There are myriad roots and causes here, but easy access to military-grade firearms coupled with almost nonexistent access to mental healthcare seem to be the tap roots. The global clash of cultures playing out in the Middle East certainly plays a role as well. Of course, in our current stalemated political climate, sensible laws having to do with arms and healthcare and immigration have a probability of being passed that approaches zero.

There’s not much that you or I can do about that. But there is one who can do something, as eloquently sung by many of us this time of year in an old Advent plainsong. I offer it up as perhaps one thing that can give a glimmer of hope today.

O come, O come, thou Lord of love,
Declare thy law all law above;
From dire oppressions bring release,
And lead us in the way of peace.
Rejoice! Rejoice! Emmanuel
Shall come to thee, O Israel!

artwork showing a dove flying through a chain and breaking it
Artwork by Andrea Seldomridge

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Andrew Zimmerman, Austria

Andrew Zimmerman

Andrew Zimmerman and his family live at the Gutshof Bruderhof, recently founded in Austria.

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