God will judge between the nations and will settle disputes for many peoples. They will beat their swords into plowshares and their spears into pruning hooks. Nation will not take up sword against nation, nor will they train for war anymore. Isaiah 2:4
Millions of us went to places of worship on Saturday and Sunday and that fact alone should bear witness to our understanding that it would be a good idea to refocus our lenses in ways that could help us to “study war no more” as the old Negro spiritual declared decades ago. Listen to this ancient text declaring that God will,” judge between the nations and settle our disputes.” What a declaration.
However, there is a major problem with this premise and the ability to allow it to become a foundation for our way of being. We must turn our intention in this direction. We must decide that we want to “beat the swords into plough shares and the spears into pruning hooks” and we have yet to come to that place. The decision to turn toward this intention must be made on both an individual and a collective level. I am more convinced than ever that the individual inner work that all of us find the courage to embrace will have more impact upon the collective events in the outer world than anything else that we can do to bring about this change in our relationship to violence.
During the week of May 31-June 4, 2022, how many innocent people did we kill through gun violence? One such incident stands out quite vividly in my mind which happened in Tulsa, Oklahoma when a patient chose to kill his physician. It has been reported that he had a surgery that left him continuing to experience pain and somehow was able to conclude that killing the physician and then himself was a better remedy than any other. The week before that it was a young man in Texas using murder as a remedy to solve whatever problem he found unbearable and before that a young man in Buffalo, New York. The list is too long and the history of using violence to solve problems is far too long.
What is your relationship to violence? How do you see it? Daily we are challenged by the way we think and behave to investigate ourselves closely to make sure that we seek to be nonviolent if we have decided that is a better way to be than being violent. What thoughts do we have that contribute to making the negative energy supply stronger? Do we denigrate folks in our thinking? Do we allow ourselves to be entertained by violence in movies, television programs, comedy shows, conversations and in other interactions with others? How much violence do we tolerate daily?
Do you own a gun? If yes, then why? What do you plan to do with it? Are you a hunter? Or is the gun in your possession to protect you from some possible assault by someone, another human being? If you are a person of faith, is it the gun or something else that you believe will keep you safe? Along with these questions, it is important to reflect upon whether you think that you are connected to other humans on the planet. If so, what does that mean and which one of them is expendable to you? Which one of them are you prepared to kill? It occurs to me that people of faith and all who are trying to be humans must ponder these questions and answer for yourself as honestly as possible.
In addition to this, it is about time that we decide as a collective of folks in a society that allows us the freedom to choose, whether we care to choose nonviolence over violence and that we need to affirm that we do not have to wait for those in Congress to fix this mess we have made around guns. We can fix it ourselves. Gun sellers can quit selling assault weapons any day that they might choose to do so. People who buy guns can make it clear that they will not support any business that does not make the general welfare of the population a priority over profit. We are not powerless or helpless in this manner as a people gathered in our cities and towns. We have to decide whether we want to quit studying war both personally and collectively. May we find the half a shade of courage necessary to do so before we kill too many more folks. May God and all of those who have lived and died because of our love affair with violence stand with us and help us.