An Examination of our Responses

A twelve year old boy in Colorado was suspended from virtual school, and police were sent to his home, after the teacher saw him move a toy gun from one side of his computer to the other during a virtual art class. The suspension was imposed for violating “‘district or building policies or procedures’ and was guilty of ‘behavior on or off school property which is detrimental to the welfare, safety, or morals of other pupils or school personnel.’” His future may be adversely affected by this incident. Though his suspension has ended, his parents are seeking other educational options for their son, who has been traumatized by the incident. No one is collecting money for this boy’s education or treatment. In Kenosha, Wisconsin, a 17 year old boy was arrested and charged with possession of a dangerous weapon, crossing state lines with said weapon, and, sadly, with multiple homicide charges. A Christian crowd funding site has raised more than $275,000 for his defense. These are but two of the more prominent examples of the pandemic of violence that is attacking our children and our communities. The list could go on. A mother called 911 seeking help for her autistic child, who was shot by police officers and is in serious condition. A twenty-year old woman died in crossfire while stopped at a traffic light in Philadelphia, with as many as 19 bullet holes in her car. Just as COVID19 seems to take the lives of older citizens, violence is claiming children and youth at an alarming pace. While some seem to be related to hate groups or clashes of protestors, some may be crime-related, some may be the result of mental illnesses, and some may be inappropriate use of force by police, the result is the same. Lives that held promise are damaged or lost.
 
While access to guns and other weapons is an important component of violent behavior, limiting access will not solve the problem. So long as we feel it is our right and all right to curse or threaten anyone who disagrees with us, so long as we feel free to turn opinions into factual data, so long as we bully one another with words and deeds, our children will learn violence is an acceptable way to resolve problems and get what we want. Political signs are being snatched from yards and destroyed. On-line posts are hijacked and turned into rants and threats against people we do not know and are unlikely to meet, causing harm not only to those who are attacked, but to the attackers as well.
 
For the sake of those for whom we care, we wear masks to limit the spread of the corona virus. For the sake of those for whom we care, we reduce violent responses, eliminate hate speech and rants. We refuse to bully or be bullied by others, and we respect those with whom we are not of one mind. Little or no progress will be made in stemming the pandemic of violence through changing laws, training officials in ways to interact with possible suspects, bystanders and persons suffering from mental illness, without a change in values and behavior by the community. If we all do our part, we will end the COVID19 pandemic. If we all do our part, we will end the pandemic of violence. We can do this – if we do it together. Wear a mask. Be kind. Seek justice. Love mercy. Walk humbly.
 
Stay safe and be blessed,
Pastor Barbara

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