He has shown you, O mortal, what is good.Micah 6:8
And what does the Lord require of you?
To act justly and to love mercy
and to walk humbly with your God.
Over the past few days I have heard from people I know and people I don’t know; readers who tend to agree with me and those who love to take issue; followers who are looking for some clarity and those with minds already made up; both conservatives and progressives; honest readers and trolls alike: “Are you going to address the latest school massacre?“
Back when I wrote a weekly column and occasional commentary for The Tampa Tribune, I usually had something to say within a few hours.
In October, 2006, when a man shot ten Amish schoolchildren in Lancaster County, Pennsylvania, I placed an Op-Ed in USA Today, and my words generated a huge response. Here are a few excerpts:
I’d like to respectfully thank my Amish brothers and sisters for what they have achieved in rehabilitating the public face of private faith. In the aftermath of such a brutal schoolhouse massacre, the rest of the world has experienced the rare privilege of witnessing real followers of Jesus ante up authentic Christianity in the face of the worst this broken world has to offer… The Amish responded – both in word and in deed – by reintroducing the rest of us to the humble spirit of the crucified Christ and the forgiving love of their risen Lord… The moment a group of people begins to act like real Christians we all gasp and say, “How amazing!” Because so few of us ever really do.USA Today, October 2006
I wrote about Columbine; I penned a commentary in response to Sandy Hook; I published essays after the mass murders at churches in South Carolina and in Texas. I have lost count of how many such events called for words of inspiration, passion, encouragement, anger, sadness, and hope.
Hard questions are not always welcome:
The day after a terrorist attack took down the Twin Towers in New York, my Tampa Tribune commentary elicited some of the worst hate mail I ever received as a newspaper writer! My thoughts were heartfelt, incisive, dripping with grief, and loaded with hard questions I wanted us to consider.
“Now is not the time” several critics wrote in letters to the editor. They didn’t want to think about difficult questions; they were unwilling to take stock; they were afraid that any challenge to their long held preemptive conclusions would be effective; they didn’t want the status quo held up to the light…. You know the drill.
It turns out that many people are more tied to their cultural status quos than they are to foundational Christian ideas such as community, justice, righteousness, love, grace, kindness; and they are more willing to let children die than to look self critically at the baked-in fear of change they stubbornly refuse to reevaluate. Their objections to reasonable interventions seem to be rooted more in political manipulations, the misreading of history, obstinacy, and misinformation than actual constitutional ideals.
Cowards in office:
My most pointed questions, however, are directed at the elected leaders who consistently fail to act. Again and again, they allow petty political posturing and an unwillingness to reach across the aisle to trump productive compromise and common sense. How about demonstrating a little courage for a change?
Politicians’ inaction is not unlike a hallway full of armed police standing outside a classroom door, doing nothing while a man with rapid fire weaponry systematically kills a classroom full of small children.
Enough of my ranting. Enough with the “thoughts and prayers”. Enough “now is not the time”. Enough cowardice from politicians. Enough.
Do some justice; show some mercy; try a little humility – DEREK