I have never blogged about something so immediately, but today the shooting in Aurora, CO has my mind swirling with so many thoughts. In the next days the conversation will surely turn to why this happened. To violence in the media. To gun control. To the parents of this young man. But perhaps rather than point fingers at these things, maybe the conversation should turn elsewhere.
There is much buzz about a new HBO show, The Newsroom, and the opening minutes of this show are some of the most riveting minutes of TV I have ever seen. Take a moment to watch this clip, if you have not yet seen it.
As a nation we are caught up in our successes of the past. In a vision of what our country used to be. I don’t think that America can be called the greatest country in the world. That doesn’t make me less American. I think it makes me more. Because we need to look at what we are doing and change the direction we are currently headed. We need to stop posturing for power. We need to stop walking party lines. Instead we need to move towards working together for real solutions.
This is even more clear to me today. As I woke up this morning, the news of the movie theater shooting was rolling in over the news, Twitter, and Facebook. The horror in this situation is unimaginable. And my first thought was, what kind of world do we live in where something like this happens? What can we do to be a restorative force in our society?
Our country and our society is becoming more individualistic. We are becoming more insular and self-centered. We are so focused on making money, making a name for ourselves, that we fail to see the pain and struggle in our neighbor’s eyes. There is something truly wrong in a society where there are shootings at schools, movie theaters, and malls.
And it is easy for us to place the blame on the media. It is easy for us to point to all the violence in TV and movies and video games. It is easy to talk about gun control and stricter laws on who and how people can obtain guns. But that is just a band-aid on a bigger societal problem.
In the Old Testament, at the beginning of this larger story of humanity, we have the first murder. Out of anger and jealousy, Cain kills his own brother Abel. God comes looking for Cain, asking where his brother Abel is, and Cain asks ” Am I brother’s keeper?” And that is the question in my mind. Are we our brother’s keeper? Obviously the correlation between this passage and this horrific situation that we awoke to this morning is not exact. But the question remains, are we our brother’s keeper? What kind of responsibility does our society have in the ways that we are failing? Can we really just quickly rush to put the blame on someone else or something else? Or is there a way to raise our communal consciousness?
Maybe we are the ones who did it. We didn’t pull the trigger, perhaps. But did we stop that bully or walk away in fear? Did we stop gossip or choose to join in? Did we help that neighbor in need or did we pretend to be too busy? Did we recognize those struggles of someone else or were we too afraid to wade into someone else’s pain? Did we just try to argue our point or did we take time to listen? Did we recognize the loneliness of another or did we choose to go about our own busy lives?
Did we choose to love or did we choose something else?
We are missing it. It is not them versus us. When something like this happens, it isn’t a time to place blame. It is a time to look at ourselves. How can we be forces for restoration in our communities, our country, and our world. How can we pay better attention to our brothers and sisters? How we raise a more communal conscience rather than just looking to ourselves?