Liturgically speaking, we are stepping in to the beginning of a time of waiting called Advent. We symbolically wait for Christ’s birth which has a predetermined beginning and end. We have full knowledge of when our season of expectation starts, and we have no concern about when it will finish. This is not a season fraught by an uneasy anxiety gnawing away at our bellies due to unknowns and uncertainties. We have every assurance in the world that what we are waiting for will arrive as scheduled. It’s not unlike the soothing balm of being able to track a UPS package en route. There are other things, however, which do not carry such simple, easy blessings.
I sit on this grey & rainy afternoon inside of a laundromat painted Ronald McDonald yellow. I am waiting for my laundry to dry. The machines make it easy to figure out how much time lies between myself and the warm comforts of my pajamas and reheated leftovers. I am left with plenty of time to scroll through my social media feeds, to think, to mull over all the violence: violent actions, violent words, anger, vitriol, venom. I think how badly we are left wanting for justice, for safety, for love, as a result of all the carnage left in the wake of angry and scared white men. Because our suffering is, in fact, most often inflicted at the hands of white men armed with guns, self-righteousness, and voting power. And we wait. We wait for the next inevitable mass shooting, the next scene of heartbreak and terror, and we wait for something to be done to make it all stop. We wait for someone, somewhere with the power to do something to finally reach their breaking point and say that this time it was the last straw.
We cannot foretell when our nation will cease the slow and agonizing process of committing the genocidal suicide of it’s own people, it’s own soul. A country with a population of 0-1 can no longer call itself a world power. It’s a wasteland. Ours will be a desert littered by the glitter of gunmetal, stained by hubris and wrath, lest something can be done about our lust for firearms and power.
As Americans, we are enamored with our guns and our idea of “freedom”. We love to wield this second-amendment freedom with reckless abandon by buying absurd numbers of guns, the biggest and most powerful guns we can possibly manage. They make us feel invincible, important, like we’re in complete control, rugged individualists mastering our own destinies. White America in particular rather enjoys utilizing guns as a tool to maintain the self-ordained position of privilege and power it has grown accustomed to. When BlackLivesMatter protesters are shot, when Planned Parenthood clinics are attacked, when black church members are shot in their own house of worship, when women are threatened with rape and murder for voicing an opinion, these are acts of terror meant to keep those voices and those bodies in line with the kinds of lifestyles and behaviors deemed appropriate and acceptable by white male conservatism. The black community isn’t supposed to raise too much of a fuss, women aren’t supposed to have control over their own bodies, and no minority group is supposed to hold more influence or have a louder voice than the white men in the room. It makes them uncomfortable, it offends their sense of superiority, and when these white men feel threatened they reach for the thing which can make them feel powerful again the fastest way they know how. They reach for their guns and they try to intimidate those who are intimidating them. This violence is a very telling symptom of their fear.
What to do? Despite my being a Christian I’m not going to say “pray”. Simply praying for things to be different isn’t going to magically make all the rage and fear evaporate and replace it with love and understanding. Changing the kind of mindset that acts in such a way is not an easy or fast process. This is not just a “mental health” issue. You can make it harder to get possession of military grade weaponry in the first place, the kinds of guns that can send out endless barrages of bullets in the time it takes to blink your eyes without the hassle of having to reload. We can make an effort to educate our population about the value of diversity; that someone being different than you does not automatically mean they are a threat to your very existence; that empathy is a more valuable trait than having a ruthless competitive nature; to value human life more than nations and symbols.
I am not naive enough to believe that we can ever get rid of all violence, hatred, and greed. These traits are inherently human and cannot be eradicated. But we can at least try to make things better. Can’t we? Surely we cannot be content with the way things are, with the way people act towards each other now. I know I’m not and I know I’m not alone. I’d rather keep dreaming, keep loving, keep creating, keep educating, and continue to try to make this world a little bit better just a little bit at a time and not just wait for it to happen.
+ Katie +