August 7, 2019
To the editor:
I was quietly stunned by my first response to two more mass killings in America: sadness – and renunciation? Is it because we’ve become so accustomed to seeing violence used as a solution to anger and frustration?
Questions began to cascade in my mind:
Has our “right” to purchase a weapon of mass destruction (even by mail!) actually become a disguised idolatry of the “freedom” we interpret in the Second Amendment?
Have we so effectively camouflaged our prejudices and personal animosity that we hide behind our “fears” and negative assumptions about individuals or groups of people we don’t know?
Have our places of worship become greenhouses that maintain and encourage suspicion, isolation, selfishness and prejudgments – or are we able to overcome our society’s inclination to “lump” people together into groups we call “inferior” and label them as dangerous?
More than ever, I need to do my part to make my Christian faith count in the face of so much pain, suspicion and sorrow in this country. So, here is what I’m going to do:
- I’m going to become a stronger advocate of mental health in my church and as a private citizen, including increased care and better intervention for persons struggling with mental anguish and destructive thoughts and behaviors. (More than half of mass killers in the United States plan on suicide.)
- I’m going to continue to help the family of God to find more redemptive ways to embrace wounded and disenfranchised persons, so that walls of separation may give way to bridges of help and healing in the church and in the country.
- I’m going to challenge prejudice and apathy in any lingering form in myself or in my family and friends.
- I’m going to continue to pursue avenues of peace and nonviolence as Christ’s way, advocating for sensible laws and practices that remove weapons of war from the hands of unchecked citizens.
Daniel G. Bagby
Retired Professor Emeritus of Pastoral Care
Baptist Theological Seminary at Richmond