Columbine, Sandy Hook, Umpqua Community College, and last night Northern Arizona State. The list of school shootings goes on and on. An insightful article written by Professor Bill Leonard of The School of Divinity at Wake Forest University laments this kind of terror in a classroom of students. He writes, “I’ve spent much of my adult life in the sacred space of classrooms, where student and teacher alike should confront the vulnerability of life and death ideas, but not life and death itself.”
The shooting at Umpqua Community College represented the 45th school shooting in the first 274 days of 2015. Freelance Journalist Mike Rosenberg writes that this was the “299th mass shooting of the year (with 4+ people shot) in the United States, more than 1 per day.” (http://t.co/oXeszlYWmI #NAU — Mike Rosenberg (@RosenbergMerc) October 9, 2015)
Professor Leonard goes on to say,
. . . as I said just a few months ago, a few months before that, and I said each time we see one of these mass shootings, our thoughts and prayers are not enough. It’s not enough. It does not capture the heartache and grief and anger that we should feel. And it does nothing to prevent this carnage from being inflicted someplace else in America — next week, or a couple of months from now.”
Something must change in our country. Journalists, law enforcement officers, politicians, citizens wax eloquently about the desperate need for change. But does our country have the political, moral and ethical will to actually bring about a change that saves innocent lives? I’m not sure. Unfortunately, no one seems sure that we collectively have the courage to change things.
I find no remedy, but I do find some comfort in the song recorded my SAM Cooke in 1963.
Oh, there been times that I thought I couldn’t last for long;
But now I think I’m able to carry on;
It’s been a long, a long time coming;
But I know a change gonna come, oh yes it will.
It’s a beautiful tune that longs for change and a better life. Any one of us could sing those words, longingly, hoping for change in the midst of difficult circumstances, whether societal or personal.
Dr. Leonard is correct that our thoughts and prayers are not enough. Real change will require that we take our heartache, grief and tears and allow them to compel us toward a sustained effort of letting our congressional representatives know that we demand more responsible weapons reform. There are good minds in our country that can figure out changes that make sense. We need to hold them accountable for using their minds to do so.
We must also keep reminding ourselves that there is always hope, and that change really is going to come. We may not see how, but believing in hopeful change can make for a positive difference in our world, change that is both past due and necessary. People of faith don’t give up. We pray on, and as we’re praying, we make those phone calls that tell Congress where we stand. But until the day of real change, it helps me to recall the words of Sam Cooke’s song:
It’s been a long, a long time coming; But I know a change gonna come.
Listen to the song on Vimeo at https://vimeo.com/42382933