The things we miss in our current political climate

Whenever any American’s life is taken by another American unnecessarily – whether it is done in the name of the law or in the defiance of law, by one man or a gang, in cold blood or in passion, in an attack of violence or in response to violence – whenever we tear at the fabric of life which another man has painfully and clumsily woven for himself and his children, the whole nation is degraded.

“Among free men,” said Abraham Lincoln, “there can be no successful appeal from the ballot to the bullet; and those who take such appeal are sure to lose their cause and pay the costs.”

Yet we seemingly tolerate a rising level of violence that ignores our common humanity and our claims to civilization alike. We calmly accept newspaper reports of civilian slaughter in far off lands. We glorify killing on movie and television screens and call it entertainment. We make it easy for men of all shades of sanity to acquire weapons and ammunition they desire.

Too often we honor swagger and bluster and the wielders of force; too often we excuse those who are willing to build their own lives on the shattered dreams of others. Some Americans who preach nonviolence abroad fail to practice it here at home. Some who accuse others of inciting riots have by their own conduct invited them.

Some look for scapegoats, others look for conspiracies, but this much is clear; violence breeds violence, repression brings retaliation, and only a cleaning of our whole society can remove this sickness from our soul. — Robert F. Kennedy, “The Mindless Menace of Violence

 

 

Rage

Another school shooting.

From the article:

The scene unfolded on the eve of the Newtown massacre anniversary, a somber reminder of the ever-present potential for violence in the nation’s schools.

I disagree. We need a somber reminder of the ever-present potential for violence everywhere because we are not a peaceful culture. We are a culture of violence and until we admit this deep flaw, we will continue to wring our hands over gun control, prison sentences, etc.

Two big examples on where conversations go when it comes to our culture that show (for me) we’re a culture driven to division and violence rather than peace and reconciliation:

1. After yet another school shooting we will yet again have the very divisive shouting match over gun control. (Just look at the comments section of any school shooting article if you don’t think that’s true.) We will continue to NOT talk about mental health and creating healthy environments that lead to healthy thinking rather than violent outbursts.

2. Mention “immigration reform” and the biggest burst of shouting you get is something about building a better wall at the border to Mexico or shipping everyone “home.” We refuse to talk about healthy paths to actually welcoming people in, getting to know their situations, trying to understand what this broken system has handed us and how we can do better. 

I could go on.

But the problem is not violence in our schools. It is violence in our souls. We are not at peace. We try to ignore the One who is the Prince of Peace… and we get violence. Even more troubling is watching believers who say they serve the Prince of Peace talk more of violence than peace.

My heart’s cry, for believers, is somehow we come to the realization that we are Christians who happen to be Americans rather than how we think now: we’re Americans who happen to be Christians.

It can start with us. We, as believers, could actually fall under the reign of the One who is the Prince of Peace. We could start there.

 

It’s Not a Gun Culture

In the past few weeks, just from the “world of sports,” I have observed something again and again.

When something tragic happens, like a mass shooting, we get reflective over being a “gun culture.” I don’t think we’re a “gun culture.”

I think we’re a culture of violence.

The gun owners who give the snide remarks about banning bricks or bats or knives are right to a certain point. Take away guns and we’ll still find a way to kill or harm.

That’s why we’re a culture of violence.

Just in the world of sports, we have tragic stories and foolish stories that highlight our current culture. I live in Minnesota and our state has been saddened by the plight of one of Adrian Peterson’s kids who was tragically killed. AP is the beloved running back of the hapless Minnesota Vikings and this week we learned a former girlfriend had a two-year old boy that was fathered by Peterson. The toddler was killed by the former girlfriend’s new boyfriend, who had been watching him at the time. The boyfriend had another incident on his record of violently shaking another girlfriend’s three year old child.

(As an aside, I want to say I LOVE Adrian Peterson as a football player. He seems to be a class guy on the field. I am not upset with anything about HIM in this story… to a point. What boggles my mind is our reaction as people who all of a sudden are angered by this story when dozens of other kids are abused by boyfriends… but I digress on this subject of our CELEBRITY culture…)

Then, yesterday in the Houston Texans game, the Houston QB went down to injury and the fans cheered because now their back up QB could get in the game and save the team. The back up promptly threw an interception that St. Louis took in for a touchdown.

Matt Cassel had that happen in Kansas City. Injury happens to the player you perceive to be the problem and you cheer when he is injured. Like it’s the coliseum in Rome or something?

There is Aaron Hernandez, formerly of the New England Patriots. Afforded every opportunity to have everything he needed in life playing THE sport that is most adored in the American culture… and he still thinks he can literally get away with murder. Solving issues for him was still done violently.

And that’s just in sports, and mostly just this week.

Our favorite TV shows and movies are filled with violence. Our favorite video games. Our favorite music.

We’re not a gun culture. We are a culture of violence.

Maybe the culture is this way. But within the Kingdom of God… it does not need to be this way. 

Yet, even in this part of the culture, the Church mimics the culture far more than it probably should.

The Kingdom should be different. The allegiance to the Kingdom really is one of peace, not violence.

It leaves me with the sobering question today: Are we truly apprenticed to Jesus… or do we even care?