- Bishop Beckwith
- Canon Jacobs
- News & Media
- NEWARK ACTS
Do not stand idly by
I watched a TV show last night in which, in the course of an hour, at least eight people were shot dead. The violence was glorified, in that the “good” guys prevailed. And the violence was trivialized, in that the” bad” guys were nameless and clearly anti-social; no blood was seen and no tears were shed. Everybody on the show, including me watching it, moved on without any reflection that lives were taken.
We are awash in violence, to the extent that we don’t often see it. If we are to make an impact on reducing the level of gun violence in our culture, which is a mission task that is very much needed, we would do well to engage in a violence audit. How many violence glorification/trivialization shows and movies do we watch? How many video games in which we blow away terrorists do we play? How many verbal and mental denunciations do we spew out when people cut us off on the road, or when we wait in line for our morning coffee? Do we even notice?
How can we challenge a culture awash in violence if we are not aware of our own complicity in that violence?
Through a resolution passed at our recent Diocesan Convention, our Justice Board has been directed to “pray and take action to overcome a culture of violence and commit to learning about the causes of violence”; and to present recommendations for how the “diocese, congregations and individuals can create or support efforts to address causes of gun violence and its effects.”
It is a tall order. There is a lot of work to do. And, thanks be to God, a growing desire to do that work.
The Justice Board has broken down their work into three distinct categories – religious witness, learning (which includes putting together a violence audit; resources for families, dealing with bullying and presenting data on guns and gun violence); and political action.
There is already activity emerging in all three fronts:
- We expect to fill a bus to Washington D.C. on Monday, March 25 (Monday of Holy Week) to join with Episcopalians from across the country to engage in a Stations of the Cross pilgrimage from the White House to the Capitol.
- Several congregations are going to engage in Good Friday Stations of the Cross pilgrimages to places of recent violence in their local communities.
- Adult Education and church school curricula are being developed to deepen awareness of our cultural glorification and trivialization of violence, and the Christian commitment to nonviolence and God’s commandment to love our neighbors as ourselves; our upcoming House of Bishops meeting will have a day devoted to issues of gun violence.
- Meetings are being scheduled with between religious and political leaders to advocate for legislation that closes loopholes in background checks, modernize tools available and strengthen the enforcement of existing gun laws.
- Meetings are being scheduled between religious leaders and police officials to advocate that they request gun manufacturers and dealers to adopt codes of responsible conduct which will improve industry practices.
More will be emerging, and our web site will be providing updates to unfolding opportunities.
“Do not stand idly by while your neighbor’s blood is shed.” (Leviticus 19:16.) Whether they are children and teachers in Newtown, Connecticut or thousands of other children who are the victims of gun violence each year, they are our spiritual neighbors. I take heart that more and more people are stepping out of relative idleness to engage in prayer, actions and witness that takes on our culture of violence – and to actively claim our roles as neighbor.