Responding to the massacre at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, the Rev. Amy Shaw writes that the onslaught of mass shootings never seems to stop.
They run together in one lump of abomination and I cannot remember which one was the one with all of the children. Which one was the nightclub? Which one targeted Christians and athletes, which one targeted gay men?
How many were just babies?
How many died to protect someone else; were they a boyfriend with his love, a teacher holding tight to a tiny hand, a principal trying to do his job?
How many got up and went to work and never came home again?
How many empty seats at dinner tables this time?
How many ringing cellphones in dead pockets? (Facebook, February 15)
For the Rev. Michael Tino, the shootings make him fear for his child—for all of our children.
Sometimes you wake in the night
unable to breathe
wondering where your child is
even though she is sound asleep
safe in her bed
deep in your subconscious
your brain knows
the theater is on fire
and you have to yell (Facebook, February 15)
UUA President Susan Frederick-Gray woke up to the news of the shooting while in Nepal for the meeting of the International Council of Unitarians and Universalists. “Holding the humanity of all involved,” she writes, “ my heart aches for the ways we continue to fall short in providing safety and attending to the well being and wholeness of all children and young people.” (Facebook, February 14)
The Rev. Robin Bartlett shares what it was like to lead an Ash Wednesday service, hours after the killings.
Our Ash Wednesday service is beautifully intergenerational, which is how it should be. Last night, I trembled as I put ashes on the heads of children, including my own. “You are dust, and to dust you shall return,” I said to children just born this year, and the children I created in my womb. I shake at the truth of this: “To dust you, too, shall return.” (Facebook, February 15)
Bartlett also opened a conversation about stopping gun violence with her gun-owning Facebook friends.
One of my congregants is going to take me to the shooting range soon, so I can conquer my fear of even touching a gun. That's what kind of empathy and radical boundary-crossing this conversation is going to take if we are ever going to make any headway.
We aren't going to be able to stop this scourge of gun violence without one another. We certainly won't be able to end this scourge of gun violence with alarmist, tribalistic rhetoric. (Facebook, February 15)
The Rev. Dan Schatz writes an open letter to House Speaker Paul Ryan.
When is the right time, Speaker Ryan? How long a pause in the bloodshed is required for Congress to begin addressing its cause? You speak of mental illness, but every country in the world has mentally ill people; among Western nations only the United States experiences violence on this kind of scale. Blaming the problem on the mentally ill distracts from the true causes of violence while perpetuating a hurtful and harmful stereotype.
The issue, Speaker Ryan, is easy access to guns. (The Song and the Sigh, February 15)
The Rev. Dr. Cynthia Landrum received an email from her daughter’s school—asking parents and students to become first responders, vigilant for signs of violence in social media.
We are taking these actions—training teachers to throw down their lives to save their students, training ushers to bar the doors, asking all our citizens to monitor the Facebook and Instagram posts of everyone they know for signs of violence—for one reason: our government has failed to act.
The idea that there's no law that would prevent this, and that the government is doing everything they can do is false. It's a [expletive deleted] lie. (RevCyn, February 15)
Tina Porter has a solution for our problem with gun violence: “Let’s build a wall.”
Not to keep immigrants out, but to keep men in. White men with assault rifles. If you want to purchase one, you have to go live in this walled up silo with others who own them.
Then maybe the rest of us can go to school, church, movie theaters, dance clubs, and just out to get a fucking sandwich without worrying we will be caught in the crossfire of your wounded soul. (Ugly Pies, February 15)
The Rev. Lynn Ungar agrees with Tina Porter’s assessment that angry white men are at the root of many of our current problems.
We are having an epidemic of Angry White Men who believe not only that they are entitled to what they want, but also that the solution to not having what they want is to go out and wreak havoc until they get it. This epidemic did not start with the current administration, but having a bunch of actual bullies in the bully pulpit is making matters worse. Dismantling the ADA, gutting environmental protections, sheltering abusers, scapegoating immigrants—it's all part of the Angry White Man script for "everything should exist to meet my needs and desires, and if I can't own it, I might as well destroy it." (Facebook, February 15)
The Rev. Dr. Victoria Weinstein and a fellow American traveler discuss safe solo travel in Mexico.
She asked me if I thought that it would be safe for her to travel to another part of Mexico, Oaxaca. I paused for a few seconds. And then I said—and we locked eyes as she had my same thought at the same time—"But . . . we have mass shootings pretty much every day now in the U.S." She was nodding with me before the words were even out of my mouth. We both realized it. It's time that Americans stopped worrying about how dangerous other nations are. We are in denial.
Mexico is terrorized by narcos. The United States is terrorized by the NRA and its accomplices. The end results are no different. We live in a failed state. (Facebook, February 15)
Our neighbor to the north, Canada, is not without similar problems; Liz James has been sorting through how to be an ally to indigenous people—including to the family of a Cree man killed by a white Saskatchewan farmer.
Watching Canada’s response to the acquittal of Gerald Stanley, I think about more than Colten Boushie. I think of all the systemic deaths. Kids left behind in schools that don’t see them. Patients that would have had better outcomes with more culturally sensitive care. Missing and murdered Indigenous women. The justice system as a whole—a story that includes but is not limited to this most recent trial.
Every death is a tragedy.
Our choice now is whether we choose to make those deaths mean something. (Liz James Writes, February 14)