“We build on foundations we did not lay.
We warm ourselves at fires we did not light.
We sit in the shade of trees we did not plant.
We drink from wells we did not dig.
We profit from persons we did not know.
We are ever bound in community."

Rev. Peter Raible (paraphrased from Deuteronomy 6:10-12)

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Violence and Suffering

Before I read the full details of the Accent Signage shooting in the Bryn Mawr neighborhood of Minneapolis this afternoon, I thought to myself, "I'll bet this is another angry white guy." It's not always the case, and I don't mean to be over simplistic here, but the vast majority of the shooters that go on rampage seem to white guys.

And sure enough, that's what the reports confirm.

And it breaks my heart. It breaks my heart to think that this is the only way these men know how to deal with their anger and frustration. It breaks my heart that this keeps happening again and again. It breaks my heart that this kind of violence is seen as a solution and a way to solve the problem, whatever that problem might be. And it breaks my heart that innocent lives were taken and families torn apart. I condemn gun violence in all it's forms, whether it makes the public news, or it's simply the gun violence that happens every day across this country.

It's true that we live in a time of great suffering; many have lost their jobs; many have lost their homes; many are suffering. People are hurting. But gun violence doesn't end the hurting. It only adds to the hurt.

Several months ago, I heard author Parker Palmer speak at Westminster Presbyterian Church in Minneapolis. He said that violence, whether it's war or personal violence, is what happens when we don't know what else to do with our suffering.

There is a lot of suffering in the world right now, here, and abroad. May we have the courage to hear those who are in pain and to acknowledge their suffering and to help how we can. May we acknowledge our own suffering. And may we find a way to turn our suffering, our tears, grief, anger and fear, into something life giving and life affirming. May it be so.

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