By the time you read this article, the subjects in the article will be part of history. During this past week and half, we have heard of a young woman being raped by another student and how his punishment was reduced to prevent further harm to him, and the events in Orlando and the violence committed by someone who was in need of help but turned to the example of people who hate and kill. I am not going to complain about guns. I will call us to be responsible in our actions.
I read an article that my cousin, Mike Vandervort, posted from another HR person that touched me deeply. The author called us to be accountable to the people around us. The young woman was violated once in an alley, but then violated again at the trial when they dug into her history to see if she was “that kind of girl”. The court was concerned about the damage to the rapist.
The shootings in Orlando have become the fodder of politicians and talking heads while little is done to find ways to reduce the opportunities for people who shouldn’t have access to legal weapons continues. No words will restore the hearts and spirits of those who suffered the loss of loves ones, nor heal the scars of those who have survived. One person, for reasons we may never understand, decided to make a statement with violence. We are being left to jump to the conclusion that it was motivated by extreme religious views. Was it that or an easy handle to grab to explain what seems mindless?
How do we as Christians react to all of this? Some voices encourage young women to dress more reservedly since young men (and older men) can’t behave properly. Some voices suggest that we all carry weapons so as to prevent violence with tools of violence.
The prophets often speak of doing kindness, seeking justice, and walking humbly with our God. Maybe if we removed this concept from a verbal event and made it the determining drive for all of our actions, we might come closer to the prophet’s intent. Trying to place blame for our actions upon others never worked when we were children. Why do we accept it so easily as adults? If we thought about our actions in relation to kindness, justice and God, would you or I make different choices?
This is personal responsibility. It cannot be forced, but if enough people start being responsible in this way, it might influence others. Rapes will still occur, but maybe we will recognize the victims as the ones needing support and compassion, and encourage justice toward those who commit the crimes. But along with justice must come the hope for redemption. Justice is never about getting revenge.
Historically, the early church responded to violence by not resisting it. Christians willingly refused to face violence with violence in the early church. They walked into the arena to face death in the knowledge that they were God’s, even in death. Doing kindness, seeking justice, and walking humbly with God might make us rethink how we deal with gun violence, maybe even how and why we feel the need to possess weapons. Fear of what might occur can motivate us to seek security systems and weapons for protection. Yet, we know that people with excellent, expensive security systems become victims. Those who have weapons have had those weapons turned against them as well. In truth, the only guaranteed security that exists is the security of God’s Love and Grace. It cannot prevent incidents like Orlando, but neither will more weapons. What it can do is give peace to us as we acknowledge that we cannot be separated from God.
This is not easily done. It takes a lifetime just to get started. Maybe that is why we are called to be disciples and students. We always need to learn how to be Christ-like as the conditions of the world challenge our resolve to love God and to love each other. Disciples who admit that we do not possess the answer to the questions of “WHY” these things happen learn that the only appropriate answer is to stand with those who are hurt, those who have been damaged, those who grieve and those who need. Are you called to be a Disciple?