"If one part suffers, every part suffers with it;
if one part is honored, every part rejoices with it."
- 1 Corinthians 12:26
No one can do everything.
Everyone can do something.
The shootings in Texas and Ohio have captured the attention of our nation. Once again, we hear calls for prayer vigils. Once again, we mourn the victims of senseless violence. Once again, we point fingers, dole out blame, and debate what should be done to avoid this kind of tragedy in the future. It can be overwhelming and numbing.
While the temptation is to do nothing - to be resigned to living in this new reality - I remind us that God calls us to be advocates for justice and agents of compassion. God has given us talents and resources. God has given us voice and influence.
So, here are a few things we can do (right now) in light of this weekend's shootings:
1 - Give Blood.
The best response to hate is not more hate - it's LOVE.
Several weeks ago, our church hosted a blood drive that collected 20 units of blood. (Thank you, donors!) We were reminded that summertime is often a time of great need at blood banks. When we donate blood, we are sharing the gift of LIFE and LOVE - perhaps not in Texas or Ohio - but in our local community. So, donate blood (or encourage someone who can donate blood to do so) at the Heartland Blood Center in Tinley Park.
2 - Speak Up.
Let's contact our legislators and demand universal background checks for all firearm sales. On February 27, 2019, the House of Representatives passed The Bipartisan Background Checks Act of 2019. If it's companion bill in the Senate is passed and signed into law, we can eliminate many of the current loopholes that allow guns to be sold through unlicensed and private sellers without a background check. The United Methodist General Board of Church and Society is calling on all people of faith to press our legislators to pass laws that establish common-sense, universal background checks for all gun sales in the U.S. If you've never done this before, check out the General Board of Church and Society website.
3 - Be Kind.
The only way to defeat darkness is not by spreading more darkness.
It's by sharing LIGHT.
Violence and hate is oftentimes the fruit of violence and hate. People who are hurting lash out and inflict hurt and pain on others. So, let's be Good Samaritans. Let's take the time to recognize those who are hurting. Show compassion to those who are lonely and crying out for help. Encourage those who are sad and struggling - in school, at the gas station, as you're in line at the grocery store. Being kind to friends and neighbors is wonderful. Let's take the extra step and be kind to strangers (and even those we once considered our enemies.)
No one can do everything. There is no quick and easy solution to the dilemma of violence in our nation today. However, we can all do something. We can all promote peace. We can all offer hope. We can all make a difference.