So many people have died at the hands of others, I could never include all the numbers here.
Yes, I could limit the numbers by a range of dates, or a nation or state or city, by religion, by race or gender, by known or unknown killer or killers. Ultimately, though, my efforts would be futile and hopelessly inadequate to the task. We all know that far too many are dying needlessly. We know that the innocent, by human if not God’s standards, make up far too many of those whose lives are stolen violently.
Like it or not, we do know that we could reduce the number if we truly wanted. We could stop the wars over natural resources. We could stop the wars over whose god or gods or lack of gods is the correct spiritual approach. We could even, if we try really hard, learn to accept one another’s differences, to cherish difference as much as we protect sameness, and to work together to make the world a safer home for everyone of us. If nothing else, we should be able to provide food, shelter, medical care, and some hope of a little joy in everyone’s lives.
To do that, we have to move beyond loving only ‘me and mine’ and hold deeply in our hearts, for the benefit of our souls and our futures, a compassion and devotion to creating the world we want. When we come to believe that what we want for ourselves and our families is the right thing to provide to other families, even those who are different in appearance or belief, we will be able to accomplish this noblest of goals: to live together in peace.
As a person holding strong spiritual and ethical beliefs, who follows a specific religious tradition, I find the silence of Christian churches on the issue of violence in our culture appalling. Worse, there are leaders in the Protestant, Catholic, and other Christian traditions who are actively promoting carry guns in their sanctuaries. They advocate separating one human from another based on personal interpretations of whatever religious book they follow.
I know that many faith institutions are concerned about declining memberships. Yet none seem willing to address the issues that burn in the minds of their potential and actual parishioners. What of gun violence? What should be done for the hungry, the homeless? Is it enough to throw money in a dish to support the church, and permit a small group of church members to decide how best to help? Does it matter how you vote? Who should decide how you interact with the world?
I see very few churches welcoming the homeless into their buildings on Sunday mornings. Why is this?
No, I have no answers. Only questions. I hope you, too, will find the questions. Maybe then we can work on answers that bring us together, rather than driving us apart.