Yesterday I read a story in The Washington Post, that I found to be profoundly moving. It was about two people who met at the Route 91 Festival in Las Vegas prior to the worst mass shooting in our nation’s history. You can find the story here.
Essentially it recounts the story of two people who met at the festival and bonded throughout the night. It then changes when bullets began to rain down upon the concertgoers. The story changes from a story of new friendship to a harrowing look into the chaos and the heartache left in its aftermath.
This article reminded me of something Sandra Richter wrote about studying the Old Testament, but I think should apply to our studying of the news: We are dealing with real people in real places. It is often easier to dive into a political debate or completely remove ourselves from an event by justifying it as something far away. For the families of the victims and the survivors, the trauma and loss are very real. Telling the victim’s stories and putting a name and face to it forces us to enter into their grief and loss as well.
The shootings in Vegas remind me, that as a Christian, we follow Jesus, who grieves with His friends. As followers of Jesus, it is not our job to add to the debates or cast judgment upon why this may have happened. Our place is to grieve with the broken-hearted and not relegate this to another inevitable news event.
I think my other struggle with the event is that we often see violence and conflict as inevitable. I believe that our grief should spur us into action. I mentioned earlier about how easy it is to wrap ourselves up in the debate, but what I mean by that is that we allow the debate to take away from the humanity of those who died. It is because we are grieving the tragic loss of life, that we should do something besides debate.
I am not going to pretend I have all the answers on how to prevent this from happening again. I do think though we need to as Christians do what we can to reject violence and promote life. Jesus when he called us to be peacemakers, He did not say or call for Christians to fall into the trap of inevitable violence. He just said, “Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God.” I think we fall into this trap of inevitable violence because unity, peace, and reconciliation are much harder than fighting and violence. If we look at this on a personal level, it is easier to end relationships then it is to reconcile broken friendships or marriages. The reason we fall into this trap of inevitability when it comes to violence is that it is easier than peace. Jesus never called us to take the easy path but to take the path that leads to righteousness. When we say that violence is inevitable, it is our duty to remember those who lost their lives in Las Vegas that day to remember the human cost of resigning ourselves to inevitability instead of action.