I’ve been away this past week and I heard the deeply troubling news about the mass shouting targeting the LGBTQ community in Colorado Springs. When will this horrendous carnage of human life end? All forms of hatred and bigotry must stop NOW. The countless media platforms and the tenor of many of our forms of communication are deeply vitriolic and disturbing. Racism and all forms of prejudice must be acknowledged and rooted out.
Our parish community stands shoulder to shoulder with our LGBTQ parishioners and friends. We pray for the victims and loved ones. Unfortunately, these mass shootings are becoming almost commonplace. We need to face the disturbing reality of our culture of violence that pervades many forms of media. Sensible restrictions to the possession of firearms must be passed.
While passing laws is absolutely essential, it doesn’t end there. People will still be able to get a gun, even when laws are passed. We are being called to dig deeper, into our own hearts and minds, which is where hatred begins and is nurtured. Our attitudes about people who look different, love in different ways, believe in ways we don’t understand can breed separation, distrust, dislike and hatred. These attitudes and ways of seeing the world must be challenged by being talked about. The light needs to shine brightly in the dark caverns of fear within our own hearts.
Fear of the unknown, fear of the ways our country is changing with new immigrants can cause many to become focused on an “us against them mentality.” It’s a never ending story of being threatened by diversity and the growing reality that one’s racial or religious group is diminishing, while others are increasing.
Jesus gives us a way out: see EVERYONE as neighbor, ESPECIALLY the one who is outside your particular culture of belonging. Love roots out hatred and bigotry. Love dissolves walls of separation. Love ultimately is the antidote to violence in all its forms.