I have been sitting here at my desk staring at a blank screen trying to make this article write itself for about a half hour. I have deleted a half dozen opening paragraphs. I know what I need to address, but I simply don’t want to. In the past week, dozens of people have been killed in mass shootings. El Paso, TX and Dayton, OH were both considered mass shootings. Chicago had 7 people murdered and 46 wounded in gun violence, but we don’t call that a mass shooting. I don’t know, is that just normal there? What is this world coming to?
We all now have the big question: why? The two murderers, whose names will not receive the dignity of being typed into this article, have posted manifestos, social media posts and a whole bunch of information to sift through. All of it will be examined closely because we all want to know what would drive someone to decide that murder was the only recourse to their situation. What was it about their political beliefs, hatred or lot in life that caused them to sink so low that they murdered people they did not know? We think that if we could understand it, maybe it would help. Spoiler alert, it won’t.
I am personally afraid of this search to understand why killers do this sort of thing. If we are searching for a way to understand, that implies that understanding exists. I already know why they did it. They were deranged psychopaths who were so self-centered that whatever their grip was became more important than the lives of the people they murdered. I don’t care how incited they were by anything anyone said, I don’t care how wronged they were by people in their lives, I don’t care how articulate they were in explaining their feelings. Nothing is going to change my mind about what they have done. I hope there is no reason ever uncovered because if it is, it will lead the news cycle and make all of us wonder where society went wrong on behalf of these killers when exactly the opposite is true. They are the ones who went wrong.
These two killers are now in God’s hands. I am not in any place to pass judgement on them because Jesus asked me not to do that (Matthew 7:1). My role now is to condemn what they have done as completely evil, and I believe I have made that clear. One murderer has already faced his Creator, and I am sure at some point in the future, the other one will stand before his Creator. What God decides to do with them is God’s prerogative and I am grateful I am not in God’s position.
I also pray that God will be merciful to the families, friends and communities that have had so much taken from them. I didn’t know a single person involved in any of this and my heart still breaks for the hundreds of shattered lives. Not one of the victims of this evil deserved what happened to them.
While I do not care in the slightest what these killers’ motives were, there is a question that I care about very much. What can we do now to prevent tragedy like this? By the time you read this article in the paper, I believe you will have experienced my answer: Summerfest. Summerfest and events like this one are what we do. We celebrate the community in which we live and the people who are valuable and vital parts of it. By coming together as a community to have a common experience, we get to know people by talking to their faces, not to a screen. It helps us know our neighbors so that if something isn’t what it seems like it should be, we can prevent something bad from happening rather than responding to it when it is too late. I hope that over the past few days, you heard some great music, gave Wayne Street UMC some school supplies for Agape, watched some kids ride a ride, tossed a game or two of cornhole and ate something with absolutely zero nutritional value. If you didn’t go at least 4 for 5 in this checklist, you didn’t take full advantage of what was offered at Summerfest.
The only way that we can purge violence and experience peace and safety is together and my prayer is that this past weekend, we all got closer together.