Another school shooting

I’m numb.

19 students and a teacher were killed by a gunman at an elementary school. Let that sink in.

The news report claims that the gunman didn’t have any help. That he was a lone shooter. The lone shooter aspect, as in the person who actually pulled the trigger, is correct as far as I can tell. But I disagree with the idea that he didn’t have any help.

He had plenty of help.

He had the help of a culture that did nothing to prevent the shooting. A culture and society and a nation and a government that valued his right to obtain a weapon that could kill 19 children and their teacher in a school, and did nothing to impede his action of carrying out such an action, over the lives of those children and that teacher.

He had plenty of help. He had help from legislators who gladly accepted donations from gun rights groups to prevent them from passing or even considering any legislation at all that might reduce the possibilities of another shooting happening. Those donations were more valuable to the legislators than the lives of the 19 school children and the teacher.

He had plenty of help. He had help from people who compartmentalize society to the point that they make no connection at all between a school shooting and anything else that we do or don’t do as a nation. Mostly because so many of us are more concerned with winning an argument, rather than improving the lives of the people in the country. Fighting over gun rights is nice and abstract and it feels like something distant from actual lives. We can have pithy arguments wrapped up in memes and tweets to make our points without worrying about the consequences of our out beliefs put into policy. We just want to win an argument after all. Dead bodies of 19 children and a teacher as a result of a shooter at an elementary are pretty concrete and messy. This is the result and consequence of actual laws and policies. Something we can’t escape. Not all laws are good. Refusal to pass other laws has consequences.

He had plenty of help. He had the help of professional political commentators who make their livings on TV and radio and podcasts and more who have been arguing for gun ownership without any restrictions at all. They can go on making their livings without the impact of the death of these children and teacher. Those that die are just collateral in political arguments, rather than prime exhibits of the consequences of actual policies. The saddest part being that those that died didn’t even have a say in these debates.

He had plenty of help. He had the help of churches who have skirted the topic and only offer thoughts and prayers because they are afraid they might lose members (money to pay the budget being the real concern), rather than fully proclaim the Gospel of Jesus that sets people free and proclaims Jesus’ way of peace. We emulate the gods/God we actually believe in and are discipled in. Whether that’s a god of violence and individualism or the God of the way of Peace. We behave in accordance with our true belief – not our stated belief. What god/God do we actually believe in? Don’t tell me. This shooting, along with the multitude of previous shootings and the shootings to come, are plenty of evidence of the gods we emulate and actually believe in.

He had plenty of help. We just don’t want to admit that because it’s far easier to scapegoat one person and think we are blameless and have no blood on our hands, rather than deal with the consequence of our own guilt as a society and nation in doing nothing to prevent such things from happening. 19 children and a teacher at a school are dead. Their blood is the sacrifice we offer at the altar of the gods we worship. It is added to the blood of so many more who have been sacrificed at the same altar so many times before and most likely will again.

We are so guilty as a society and a nation that we know such shootings are going to happen again – it’s just a matter of when and where and who the victims are, not if it will happen or not. Why are we satisfied with this certainty that will result in more death? And yet, even that knowledge is not enough for us to do something to attempt to curtail the next shooting. We are so very willing to sacrifice our neighbors, our friends, our very families, our own children, rather than do anything to prevent the next shooting.

When we worship false gods, when we prefer empires and what they are about, then everyone is expendable. Everyone. Yesterday we saw that 19 children and a teacher were expendable. Yesterday’s shooting is just another example of our addiction to empire and its ways rather than the Kingdom of God and all it is about – the way of peace, seeing the Image of God in others, care and concern for the least in society, and more.

He had plenty of help. If this were to be spoken in Biblical terms, the appropriate statement would start as “Woe to you America…”

He had plenty of help. And so does the next person who goes to a school and kills. Or a grocery store. Or a church. Or a mall. Or a workplace. Or a nightclub. Or anywhere else. They all have plenty of help.

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