CHANGING OUR HEARTS
A cry can be heard across the land, a cry that has to do
with the desire of many to protect the lives of innocent children, an especially poignant and loud cry since the Newtown, CT tragedy in mid-December. What will ease this cry, this pain born out of a heightened identificatIon with the families who lost their little ones? What will still the pain?
This pain cannot be stilled and it must not be stilled. The pain of that shocking event has caused many in this country to leap out of themselves in identification with those bereft, to imagine with greater depth and intimate detail - what if it had been my child, what if it had been my school? To know, with horror, that innocence had been violated beyond what the human heart could accept.
America needs to feel this pain of identification and to seek solutions to the problem of violence, not simply through measures which treat the symptom of violence, the actual weapon that is being used; not simply through banning the sale of automatic weapons, but through allowing identification with others, with the bereft, with the children, with those who have lost loved ones everywhere to rise within the heart.
Children and youth die every day on the streets of America. They die while going to a grocery store or while sitting on a park bench. They die because they were in the way of a drive-by shooting. These are not automatic weapons that cause the harm. They are ordinary handguns, ordinary means accessible to many.
It is not depriving people of automatic weapons by law that will end these deaths. Nor can it be the banning of any weapon that will end them, for such restrictions can be circumvented. What needs to be banned is the violence that lives in our hearts – the violence that allows young people, individually, to be killed or shot day by day within certain cities so that it is no longer a great surprise. It is no longer a shock.
We must grieve with those who grieve and weep with those who weep for their lost ones, but more than this, we must close the space that exists between 'us' and 'them,' between those who are real to us as our very own families, and those who are less real to us because they are somewhere else.
It is not weapons that cause violence. It is the state of our hearts that cause violence and the coolness of the heart that permits it. Our hearts must become warmer toward others, toward those we know and toward those we do not know. Our hearts must become a burning fire of love so that these currents of motivation that seep through us no longer have a place to be.
This is America's need and it is America's virtue - to know how to attain peace and to know how to protect the innocent by being peaceful and being innocent. We must ban violence and indifference from our own hearts so that it may then be banned on the streets of America that we call our own.
See also: Prayers for a New America on Facebook