In the words of one survivor, the London apartment fire was horrific, with a high number of dead and injured; the UPS shooting in San Francisco was equally horrific—four dead, including the shooter. Tragically, our country is so deadened to daily shootings we almost take no notice, unless it affects someone we know or love or unless it’s right in our backyard.
Some resent that the baseball field shooting in Virginia got so much more attention than the other tragic events of the day and, indeed, the other shootings that have become all too common. But this was different—a shooting apparently politically motivated and aimed at members of our government. Party is irrelevant in a situation like that. It was a blatant attack on our government, and on all that America stands for. We weep together as a nation and thank God that no lives, except the shooter, were lost.
It is shameful to politicize such a tragedy, but I cannot help but view it in terms of what goes around comes around. The most prominent congressional victim, Congressman Scalise, ironically is the one who introduced a bill that weakened gun control laws and made it possible for the mentally unstable to get weapons, not that this shooter has been proven to be mentally unstable. Gun rights advocates are already using this as an argument for guns for self-protection, but it is unlikely that baseball players, if gun owners, would have carried their guns onto the field with them. The armed guards who were on duty did a heroic job of preventing further injury and loss of life. They are true heroes of the day. But even they couldn’t completely prevent the attack. I see this violence as an argument for making guns less accessible, particularly assault weapons, though I’m not sure what kind of fire power the shooter carried.
Several studies have analyzed the increasing violence and anger in our country since Mr. Trump began campaigning and calling for violence against detractors at his rallies. I think he and those of his party who support him, for all they talk about unity and praise God there was little loss of life, need to take a long, hard look at themselves and their policies.
Millions are about to lose their health insurance; many of the poor and underprivileged have already lost needed benefits. Veterans have either lost long-promised benefits or will. The poor, the young, the old, the chronically ill will lose health care in the cruelest bill to be proposed, let alone rushed through the Senate with undue haste and secrecy. But tax cuts are in store for the ultra-rich. The environment is encroached upon daily; education is treated as an elitist privilege; social security is threatened, even though it is not the government’s money; international relations are in the tank, and suspicions about Russian collusion run high; the list of outrages grows daily. It makes a lot of people angry, and it apparently was enough to push Mr. Hopkinson, a dedicated progressive, over the edge to violence. It may push others too, but there’s a dark message there if the administration and Congress will listen.
Tonight, as I pray for the victims and their families, I pray also for those who angered the shooter in Virginia, that they may be touched by human compassion and reach out in a positive way to those they were elected to serve and protect. Most profess to be Christian, and as a practicing Christian myself, I hope they can remember the teachings of Jesus. Hate and greed were not in his vocabulary. I pray too for those devastated by the tragedies in San Francisco and London. Who knows if London’s fire was preventable—I’ve heard complaints about poorly done renovations—but the tragedy in San Francisco might well not have occurred were the national mood different.
Please pray with me, in the way of your choice. And then reach out and hug someone.