Response to Tragedies Like Newtown: Get Your Hands Dirty
In the wake of national tragedies like Newtown, we rush to solutions. We demand the elimination of assault weapons. We want to arm teachers and school staff. We ask the government to solve our problems because then we don’t have to get our own hands dirty. And we don’t look at the solutions that demand action on our part.
Do I believe we can find solutions that will end violence for good? No. There will always be violence and evil this side of Heaven because there is sin and free will.
But as followers of Christ, we can work for solutions that will lessen violence and bring about good in our communities. But these solutions demand action from each of us.
Love your neighbor
I honestly believe that the simplest of acts can have a enormous impact. What if each of us loved our actual neighbor like ourselves? Even that strange neighbor that runs from any kind of social interaction. Even those that are really hard to love. I believe that if we loved our neighbors we would see less acts of violence in our neighborhoods and communities. But we don’t do the simplest of commands in Scripture. It gets too messy when we love our actual neighbors. Maybe that’s why Jesus stressed it so much. So instead we rant on social media about gun control or why we have a right to own a weapon. Step away from your computer, walk next door and meet your neighbor.
When we love our actual neighbors, we develop relationships with those who are hurting and in need of community. We recognize when those who have mental illnesses are in danger of acting out and hurting others. This gets dirty and hard but this is where change happens.
For more on this idea of loving our actual neighbors, check out The Art of Neighboring by Jay Pathak and Dave Runyon.
Invest in your local public school
What if every church adopted their local public school and invested deeply in its success? What if church members volunteered in classrooms, donated educational supplies and cooked goodies to leave in the teachers’ lounge? And what if we did this without proselytizing? I believe it would make the world of a difference in our communities.
When we invest in our local schools, we notice the social outcasts who are yearning for unconditional love and acceptance. How many school shootings could have been stopped if those students would have been pursued by a caring adult who showed unconditional love? These students are very tough to love because they scorn this kind of attention. It’s much easier to move on to the students who look like they have it all together and we can interact with easily.
In the wake of another horrific school shooting, there is a place for a national dialogue about guns and violence, but I think this is the wrong debate. Honestly it’s the easy debate because it doesn’t require action or sacrifice on our part. It’s harder to love the social outcast who just wants to play his video games instead of talk. It’s harder to build a relationship with our neighbor who never leaves her house except when they are going to work.
This time let’s act locally instead of yelling about guns.