Yes, indeed we do need to stand our ground. But the ground needs to be that which is committed to working for the alleviation of violence in this country. The notion that violence is a solution to our problems is indefensible and false. We have engaged in so much state-sanctioned violence through our wars, death penalty and other behaviors until we think that it is an acceptable tool. Along with this we use violence in our recreation. Take a minute and think about how much violence we allow into our lives in a vicarious manner through television, movies, video games and other sources of entertainment.
Our enthusiastic engagement of violence makes it surprising that we seem to be amazed at the number of gun deaths that continue to occur on a daily basis. When will all of us be outraged enough to take whatever steps we can to make sure that violence is brought to a halt in our land? When will we stop being entertained by it or simply turning our heads in another direction until we hear of another outrageous event such as the killing of Trayvon Martin that makes us take a look for a few minutes before going back to business as usual.
The mobilization around the shooting death of Trayvon is fine, but we need to be in the streets everyday standing against all of the violence in our respective neighborhoods. We need to stand against all of the gun laws that make it so easy for guns to be everywhere. What is the matter with us that we think owning a gun or an arsenal of guns will create security and authentic wellbeing for our lives? There are millions of us who claim to have faith and who participate in the practice of various kinds of worship on a weekly basis, yet far too many of us seem to imagine that the God that we follow has nothing to do with keeping us safe or helping us to have a peace filled life.
As a woman of faith I am struck by the promises made to those who follow God about what is to be expected when one works to follow God's path through this journey on the earth. The Psalmist proclaims that, " ... he will command his angels concerning you to guard you in all your ways. On their hands they will bear you up, so that you will not dash your foot against a stone." (Psalm 91:11-12 NRSV) There are many other passages about the fact that we have not been given a spirit of fear, the spirit given to us is one of power and love and if we begin to live as if this is in fact the case, a new kind of energy will become possible.
Some time ago during the Georgia debate about being able to carry a gun to church or the airport, I recall how many folks, many who sat in places of worship, were very happy about such a notion and very critical of those who were opposed to such laws. Until we decide what kind of people we intend to be we will always turn ourselves to the impotent answer of violence instead of seeking the power that comes from courage, love and a willingness to seek nonviolent solutions to our problems.
Gandhi said that if we live with the idea of "an eye for an eye, we will end up with the whole world blind." We are making great strides in that direction in our land. We practice an eye for an eye, while we pretend to seek justice tempered with mercy. One of the answers to this struggle is for each one of us to confront our own personal violence. What thoughts, feelings and ideas do we carry with us that can contribute to fueling the fires of violence? How do we practice violence in our daily life by the manner in which we view others, interact with them and even in the ways that we think about them? Violence is an energy system and each of us needs to be very careful not to make any contribution that system.
Yes, let's stand our ground for nonviolence and peace. Let's re-imagine forgiveness in this land and find ways to offer authentic forgiveness to those who do us wrong. Let's forgive ourselves so that we don't have to practice violence to ourselves through indulgences and other counter productive behaviors. Let's think about having the reign of violence stop today, right now with each of us as we seek better ways to live in this violent culture. Let's re-commit ourselves to peace and no violence by not making excuses for violence whether it is being perpetrated through war, death penalty, abortion, racism, homicides or in our own heads and hearts in the ways that we treat our sisters and brothers on this earth. Let's stand our ground and trust that the angels are holding us up and we have not been given a spirit of fear, but one of power and love and we can live without violence.