From Aurora, Colorado to Sanford, Florida we need to remember that these people were first and foremost human beings and secondly victims of violence. We have to decide now if we are going to define our country in terms of black and white or as people of action.
Just hours after each of the heartbreaking shootings, Holmes and Page were on their way to becoming common household names. While locked behind bars, they become notorious Twitter superstars, dominating news feeds and television debates.
Gun advocates have successfully been able to make this a debate about FREEDOM, something that's impossible to argue against. Those of you looking to counter them need to find an equally unassailable position, and "Fuck this! We need to banish guns forever!" isn't it.
Instead of pushing some arbitrary, fundamentalist Christian agenda that offers zero intrinsic value in solving the grandest issue of where do we go from here, let's remember the community of Aurora, the fragility of a moment, and look ahead in search of a true solution.
If the story of our country were a movie, we have established the villain: our ineffective gun laws. If our story were a movie, the hero -- reluctant or not -- would accept his calling by the end of act one.
Rain and fear on a summer afternoon. Could a defibrillator really look like a bomb? Of course not, you say. But still we worry and wonder.
Leaders calling for a renewed ban are, not surprisingly, those most exposed to them on the streets: America's police chiefs. Many of them are NRA members, but they know assault weapons put the lives of their officers and citizens at risk.
Those Americans who would like an open debate on the subject, and a chance to develop reasonable and effective solutions to our gun violence problem, are in despair. Many feel the nation is at a political impasse.
Aurora has reminded us that lament is sorely lacking in our land. Our faith communities are faced with a prime opportunity to recover the practice of lament and point us toward a society that is more compassionate and humane.
The infantile habit of binary thinking (good or evil, right or wrong, gay or straight) is one of the major curses in almost all civilizations. Voters deserve not a mysterious good, nor an unfathomable evil, but the naked facts.
We religious leaders frequently and publicly lament the ongoing bloodshed in Afghanistan, Syria and other parts of the world. Yet, during the course of the past 30 years there have been more than 1 million gun deaths in this country, most of them preventable.
Almost all Americans would agree that dangerously mentally ill individuals, possibly like James Holmes, and like Tucson shooter Jared Loughner (who was found incompetent to stand trial because of paranoid schizophrenia) should not be able to legally purchase firearms.
In a sense, we suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder on a national scale, but do nothing to heal as a society or to prevent these killings from happening again. We have become a traumatized country, paralyzed by norms and values that result in condoning violence.
We want solutions that will save lives. We are willing to put aside our political differences to find them. We know we are better than this. Now we must hold our elected officials accountable to show that they are too.
The hope is that if we can isolate the factor that pushes some people to murder their fellow citizens, perhaps we can alter our social environment and reduce the likelihood that these terrible acts will be repeated in the future. The only problem is, which one could it be?
One obvious question raised by the student campaigns to carry concealed weapons is whether the death tolls in any of these massacres would have been lower if the teachers, tutors or moviegoers had been able to shoot back?