I woke up this morning to yet another shooting. So far this year there have been 27,797 incidents with 6,875 deaths and 154 mass shootings (www.gunviolencearchive.org). Today alone there were two mass shootings, one in Alexandria, VA and one in San Francisco, CA. As a country, we are awash with guns and there are too many people lacking both self-control and a moral compass with them. We must either work to have gun laws that prevent those who should not have weapons of violence from easy access to them or we must address the lack of morality and self-control or we could be radical and do both.
“Those that proclaim themselves to be the sole measure of realities and of truth cannot live peacefully in society with their fellow [wo]men and cooperate with them.” –Compendium of the Social Doctrine of the Church
I often wonder when our fall began and the answer always leads me back to the same place – our leaders. We have all manner of leaders and they are failing us. We have professional athletes that cheat and commit violence, actors that engage in all manner of moral failure and make huge money glamorizing immorality, and politicians that engage in discourse that incites the public to incivility. And then there is me. What am I doing to change things or worse support them?
I can’t take away your hate of your neighbor, or a politician, or even your brother. I can only let love take all the space in my own heart leaving no room for hate. I can’t force you not speak in ways that infuriate others or to listen to the views of those that are “different”. I can only speak with compassion and have ears to hear. I can’t take away your guns, but I can decline the right to bear arms and walk among my neighbors without fear. In the end, the only morality I can control is my one, but I can be an example to others of compassion and civility.
We need to change the way we see ourselves and our expectations of our society. Compassion and civility begin with me and with you. I’m choosing to practice radical compassion.
May all the victims of gun violence, hateful speech, intolerance be embraced with love. May all of those that feel the need to respond with such speech or violence be embraced with even greater love until they are able to let go.
May God grant us compassionate heart and a peaceful society.