“As a dog returns to his vomit, so a fool repeats his folly.” —Proverbs 26:11
We find ourselves, again, in a place of sadness, anger and pain in the aftermath of a mass shooting. A teacher and 17 students were killed and more injured at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida.
Schools exist to nurture the gifts and talents of our children. They’ve become killing floors. As a nation, we are unwell.
We are right to look to Jesus in this time of tragedy for comfort, wisdom and healing. But we should not be surprised if Jesus asks us a question: “Do you want to get well?”
Columbine, Sandy Hook, Orlando, Las Vegas, Texas, countless other episodes of violence that fade quickly from our collective consciousness—these events shock us, bring us to tears, make us angry. They do everything except make us change.
As sick as we are as a nation, it doesn’t appear we want to get better. Violence is a disease that has infected every part of America. It’s in our history, it’s ever-present in our culture. We look to it as a protector and defender, the first and best way to address our problems. In America, the answer is often to be tougher, to hit harder.
We may talk about cures and policy changes that will bring an end to the suffering. These are ways to alleviate some of the worst symptoms. But the biggest obstacle to recovery is us. We do not want to get well.
Mennonites historically have resisted the call and lure of violence. But we are complicit in the tragedies that plague us, as are all Americans. When we allow these tragedies to become commonplace, when we allow systems and corporations to profit from producing and distributing the tools of death, when we accept as inevitable that no solution can be found—we are complicit.
We mourn today the loss of life and the terrible road of grief 18 families now have to walk. We mourn those who were injured and the trying recovery to physical, emotional and spiritual wholeness that awaits them.
And after we mourn, let us search our own hearts and inquire—do we want to get well?
—Ervin Stutzman, executive director, Mennonite Church USA