I don’t know what it is that infuriates me so much more about this Texas church shooting than the others. Maybe it’s that more children are dead this time. Maybe it’s the astounding irony of hearing “thoughts and prayers” coming out of my television speakers when the shooting happened in a church, and to praying people. Maybe it’s because churches are on the list of places the people we love can be riddled with bullets by the guns some of us seem to love more.
Whatever the reason, this one has created a knot in my stomach more than most mass shootings (and God knows there are plenty.)
I watched the governor of Texas say this morning that “killing was illegal too” and the gunman still committed murder. That was actually his response to what can be done about the availability of guns. The leader of the state threw his proverbial hands in the air and spewed idiocy rather than say he’d look into what could be done about the fact that in the state he leads, a convicted domestic abuser legally acquired a gun and murdered people.
And then there’s the “mental illness” claim. The other thing we blame and do nothing about. But I don’t think this is mental illness. And the fact is that mentally ill individuals are more likely to be the victims of violent crimes, not the perpetrators. Mental illness is the explanation we allow white Western men, but not brown Eastern ones. We don’t even allow those explanations to unarmed black Americans when they are shot in the back or choked to death.
Sure, some of these shooters were disconnected from reality. But what seems to be the case more often than not? White male entitlement. Most of this domestic terrorism is committed by white men who think it is acceptable to blow away the things they don’t like. The things they can’t control.
Over and over again, these men kill what they can’t control, because they think they are entitled to do so. Because our culture, and even our laws have told them they “deserve” to look out at a world that looks and acts the way they want it to.
They are wife-beaters, they are criminals, they are Neo-nazis, and they are white supremacists. Or they are regular guys no one, not even their families, suspected. But they are frequently white men who just aren’t getting their way in a world that has told them they deserve to.
But again and again, we will hear all of the political acrobatics to avoid doing anything to change the culture and even the laws that facilitate these mass murders. We will offer our thoughts and prayers, but The Bible tells us that faith without action is empty.
And we will hear about how faith will get these people through their loss. And that is true. I have been trudging through this grief thing for years now, and my faith in God has held me up during the many times I have been at my lowest.
But it is not that simple. The beginning of grief is a blur. Faith is easy in the beginning. It gets much harder when the fog lifts, and you look at the raw reality of what your loss has left you with.
These people who have lost parents and spouses and children have a much harder road ahead of them than those who don’t know what grief really feels like can understand. It is a long, ugly road. It will be going on for these people of Texas, and Orlando, and Las Vegas, and Sandy Hook, for much longer than our Facebook statuses will offer thoughts and prayers.
So until we do something meaningful, and we stop only praying, nothing will change. Until we demand change that is founded in facts and statistics (as boring as they may be) we can live in this new reality. And until we stop telling white men that they get to make their own reality look the way they have decided it should look, nothing will change, and any of us is vulnerable to their rage.
While I hope a LOT of people are praying for change and comfort for these people, I hope when they are done, they demand more from the people perpetuating the culture that is the real problem.