My dearest elected representatives:
I know it feels like we ask so much from you. I appreciate that you are pulled in every direction imaginable. And as a Rabbi, I am certainly aware that you will never be able to satisfy everyone. The unpopular decision -- the one that may lose you money, key supporters, or even your seat of power -- may well feel overwhelming and beyond comprehension. I understand that. I really do.
But inaction in the face of adversity shows only a lack of courage and a deficit of conviction. You have to be better than that.
In order to permit this deadly stalemate in which you could only agree to extend a ban on plastic weapons (which are still probably less regulated than plastic toy guns), you must have had to close your eyes, cover your ears, and numb yourselves -- time and time again -- to the epidemic of gun violence swirling 'round you. Building emotional walls that thick surely takes its toll on the human heart. But you don't have to be like a hardened-heart Pharaoh. Moses and Aaron present themselves before you every single day: as mothers, brothers, friends... all victims of gun violence, crying for common-sense answers that will certainly provide at least some freedom from this epidemic.
One full year later we call to you once again: lift up your eyes, turn your ears, open your hearts. Walk into our inner cities and witness the pain and trauma, feel the sparks of hope somehow still alive, still waiting for you to just show up with resources and protection, even if it is a zip code you would rather avoid. It's your job.
A close friend and hero from Compton that I am honored to collaborate and advocate with through LA VOICE-PICO, a Los Angeles grassroots network of faith-based groups, recently taught me an inspiring and potent theological lesson. Presented with unending challenges, barriers to dignity unfathomable to most of us, he lifted the words: "It's okay, I'll be okay. Because I serve the God who specializes in the impossible." Amen.
My representatives, please join my friend. Belief in God or not. We need to reaffirm that we are all here to serve, and not just the service that wins us political points or provides a predictable victory. That's too easy. The service we ask of you is one that demands you imagine what isn't yet, what appears beyond what you can accomplish, and then make it happen. Lives depends on it. And we depend on you.
Your (outraged) partner,
Rabbi Aaron Alexander