How long, O God? Will you forget us forever?
How long will you hide your face from us?
How long must we bear pain in our souls,
and have sorrow in our hearts all day long?
~adapted from Psalm 13:1-2a (NRSV)
At First Parish, we are heartbroken once again from a mass shooting at a school. We mourn all violent deaths, and violence against children especially breaks our hearts. Nashville’s Covenant School students, staff, families, and community have been terrorized and traumatized by the injuries and deaths at that school. We remember the names of those killed: Evelyn Dieckhaus, William Kinney, and Hallie Scruggs, all 9 years old; substitute teacher Cynthia Peak (61); custodian Mike Hill (61); and head of school Katherine Koonce (60).
The number one leading cause of death for American children and teens are “firearm related injuries,” and gun-deaths claim nearly 5,000 children’s and teens’ lives every year. The rate of childhood deaths by firearm has steadily increased in recent years. The United States has far and away the worst statistics for gun violence and gun deaths out of any other nation of similar size and economic stability.
We expect that, as always happens, some media outlets, politicians, and community leaders will lay the entire blame for this latest mass shooting on the individual person holding the guns. While we certainly believe in free will in our faith tradition, we know that these mass shootings would not happen with such frequency if our nation didn’t permit extremely easy access to firearms. Focus on the individual shooter serves to absolve our communal responsibility to enforce sensible gun laws and restrictions.
So many lives depend on our commitment to ending gun violence in the United States. We encourage all who are invested in ending gun violence and supporting those impacted by gun violence to consider donating time and treasure to local and national organizations making a difference. We recommend our friends at the Louis D. Brown Peace Institute in Boston (https://ldbpeaceinstitute.org); Everytown for Gun Safety (https://www.everytown.org); and, March for Our Lives (https://marchforourlives.com).
Please remember that Rev. Catie, Darrah Bryans, and Sara Elizabeth Dyer Santa Cruz are all available for pastoral appointments and support. You can also use national Unitarian Universalist resources for taking care of yourself and your families after a tragic incident, such as through the UU Trauma Response Ministry (https://www.uutrm.org/resources/) and the UUA’s Families Ministries (https://www.uua.org/families/trauma).
Take care, and keep the hope that, together, we can build the world that we dream about, free of gun violence.