Blessed are the peacemakers: thoughts on mass shootings and American division

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In the wake of this week’s rash of mass shootings, I caught myself doing something that I’m a little embarrassed to admit. If I’m being honest, when I hear about a mass shooting one of my first thoughts is, “oh no, please don’t let it be a southern white guy with a manifesto and a confederate flag.” 

I don’t feel this way because I care more about a southern white guy than say, a black woman from Los Angeles. I feel this way because when the shooter is a white male right wing nut, I feel like a little bit of the blame, real or imagined, falls on my shoulders. Regardless of the validity of the killer’s understanding and perceptions of the President, the GOP, or anything I support, I automatically fear that media will extrapolate his evil and radical beliefs to me. Certainly, this feeling is not unique to southern white men like me.

Without a doubt, I am not the only person who feels this way. Of course I feel this way, I have been conditioned to. We live in a society that is utterly obsessed with that which divides us. We are increasingly defined by biological and cultural factors that have no application to our personal character . Are you a POC? How about a member of the LGBTQ community? Or are you a white-nationalist? We perceive the world through the prism of our biological and political differences more-so today than at any other point in my short 24 years on this planet.

For years now I have believed that in times of serious national crisis, we could put aside the political divisions and come together as one people. Today I am not so sure. In the wake of this national tragedy, I’ve seen a lot of puffed up pundits playing the blame game on TV, and a lot of longtime friends take to Twitter with their own outrage. Democrats say that thoughts and prayers are not enough. They say Republicans won’t put forward a plan to fix this, and you know what? They’re right. Republicans say gun control has never been proven to work in this country, and the places with the tightest gun laws also see the most violence, and you know what? They’re right too.

The media narrative is determined on this issue the same way it is for any other. They find the loudest, the angriest, the most preposterous voices, and they sell us tickets to the show. Ill-conceived tweets from people like Elizabeth Warren, Dinesh D’souza and Neil DeGrasse Tyson go viral, and you take your eye off the objective, scarfing down popcorn while watching the champion for your party whips the other team. ZING! That tweet really burned them. And it changed nothing.

In the sermon on the mount, Jesus gave us the beatitudes, a series of proclamations about how His people live their lives. He never said blessed are the partisans. He did say blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called Children of God. We have enough angry partisan voices in this country. It takes no strength or moral courage to pile on. We need peacemakers, people with the guts not to reduce their democrat neighbors, or their republican neighbors, to a trope, dismissing them entirely when political paths fork.

We so desperately feel the need to assign blame. It terrifies us to believe that this issue may be beyond our control at this time. We hide our fright behind the light of our torches and the glittering steel of our pitchforks, and set off to hold someone (other than the obvious killer) accountable for a great tragedy. In doing so, we forfeit the opportunity to come together and actually solve the problem. If we could just talk without anger, maybe Republicans would realize most democrats don’t want to take their guns away, and democrats would realize most republicans aren’t content to merely shove their heads in the sand and wait on this thing to blow over. Instead, we shake our fists at the sky, and curse the all-powerful Uncle Sam for finally failing to meet a need, to solve a problem he didn’t create and probably can’t fix. We are so scared because for the first time in a generation, we’re forced to confront the reality that the government is not God. The congress doesn’t have a magic 8-ball.

It is time for the American adult to come back to the forefront. I no longer have any appetite for polarizing pundits who would divide us to make a dollar. I want to be a peacemaker. There is too much at stake for us to continue on this path. The prophetic words of Abraham Lincoln reign true, ““America will never be destroyed from the outside. If we falter and lose our freedoms, it will be because we destroyed ourselves.”

6 thoughts on “Blessed are the peacemakers: thoughts on mass shootings and American division

  1. So, “peace in our time” then? Good luck with that, if that’s how you plan to hold onto your freedoms. Some people prefer, you know, actually keeping their freedom. I’m with those guys.

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  2. Sorry I truly do believe that the democrats want to and if could, would take our guns away. To my mind it is a control thing and they, in fact of late, are saying it often enough that why wouldn’t I believe them.

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  3. In the sermon on the mount, Jesus gave us the beatitudes, a series of proclamations about how His people live their lives. He never said blessed are the partisans. He did say blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called Children of God.

    A little later on, his spokesman Paul said something else … I Corinthians 13:6:

    Love does not delight in evil, but rejoices with the truth.

    The two are not mutually exclusive.

    We have enough angry partisan voices in this country. It takes no strength or moral courage to pile on. We need peacemakers, people with the guts not to reduce their democrat neighbors, or their republican neighbors, to a trope, dismissing them entirely when political paths fork.

    That requires intellectual honesty – respect for the truth, wherever it leads – as well as respect for the humanity and unalienable rights of the individual.

    And when that intellectual honesty is lacking, responding to it with civility is usually counterproductive in terms of assuring the above respect. Sometimes, you have to have the courage to worry less about others thinking bad of you, and more about confronting the intellectually dishonest, even if it takes incivility to get their attention … because that civility gives the intellectually dishonest a veneer of legitimacy for dishonest ideas. And it usually comes coupled with a lack of respect for the individual, in the effort to impose an idea as though it is The One and Only True Way.

    I remember Jesus getting people’s attention, by wielding a whip in the Temple. Hopefully, we can keep these confrontations limited to words … with an important detail.

    We need to go back and look at those Warner Bros. cartoons and review how Ralph Wolf and Sam Sheepdog handled their confrontations … while they were “on the clock”, they were in full-on confrontation, but before and after the work day they treated each other with respect.

    Instead of sinking to getting in the faces of opponents when they’re at a restaurant, or at home … or doxxing them to encourage others to get in their faces that way … perhaps We The People need to make that distinction between on-the-clock and off-the-clock as well, so that we have both the necessary confrontation of flawed thinking, and continued respect for all the individuals involved.

    No matter how deplorable … or how big a snowflake … they are.

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  4. “Blessed are the Peacemakers”…and the Blackhawks and the Pythons……and “old slabsides”….

    While we are quoting scripture, try this one:

    Luke 22:36, King James version of Jesus words to the disciples at the Last Supper::

    “Then said he unto them, But now, he that hath a purse, let him take it, and likewise his scrip: and he that hath no sword, let him sell his garment, and buy one.”

    And Gaston Glock started out making shovels….

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  5. The solution to this is to build genuine community. But even building community gets a bad rap these days because so much of what is called community building is actually appealing to affinity groups or racist organizations like the KKK or La Raza.

    We need genuine community amongst all people. That is the way to reduce isolation and hostility. Love your neighbor as yourself. You know what to do. Get to it.

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