These tragedies are understandably political, because no other nation in the world has this problem—no other nation has the gun laws we have, nor the rabid pro-gun faction that has political power far beyond its numbers.
Yet this is a personal tragedy.
Four teenagers have been killed. These are beautiful and promising young lives, children treasured by parents and loved ones, gone in a moment of senseless violence. We lament and mourn for their loss. This is a community tragedy, where Oxford, Michigan joins the list of places across the United States that have become famous as sites of deadly mass shootings. And this is a tragedy for the young man who committed this unthinkable violence. What combination of mental illness and anger and despair drove him to do this? Why couldn’t he be led to the help he needed before turning violent?
We are a generation of Americans who have lived to see these events as commonplace. Students now experience lockdown drills and active shooter drills regularly. We are traumatized as a nation by this repeated violence.
The need for healing is enormous. What can we do to heal ourselves from the trauma of public gun violence? How can we heal the young people in our lives? I have only one answer—that it begins with love. Increasing love in yourself through self-care, prayer, meditation. Increasing love between yourself and those around you through compassion and kindness. Supporting communities and institutions that teach love, that embody compassion, that have kindness as a core value. When we exercise our will and energy to love, we help to heal both directly and indirectly. We help to create a world without violence.
God of Love and Healing, be with us now. Our brothers and sisters, our siblings and friends in Oxford are hurting. Our nation sees another episode of gun violence and asks why.
Spirit of Love, be with those who are scared. Be with those who were injured. Be especially with the families of those who were killed: fill them with love. Let love surround the grieving and the mourning.
May tragedy and violence remind all of us that we must love to heal, that we must love to counteract aggression.
Rev. Andrew Frantz
December 2, 2021