Editorial: The body count continues to rise at a dizzying pace

Share on facebook
Share on twitter
Share on email

Middle Tennessee was smacked by the scourge of gun violence in March when an assailant shot and killed six people at The Covenant School before police were able to confront and kill the shooter. In the aftermath, the people of Nashville wept for innocent lives taken from their loved ones. 

Our community was added to the seemingly endless list of those scarred by violence. We shared in the pain of Uvalde, Texas, and Monterey Park, California, and Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, and Orlando, Florida, and Boulder, Colorado, and Buffalo, New York, and San Antonio, Texas, and Charleston, South Carolina, and San Bernardino, California, and Blacksburg, Virginia, and Newtown, Connecticut, and Columbine, Colorado, and hundreds of other cities and towns, large and small.

In the six weeks since the shooting at The Covenant School, there have been 90 more mass shootings around the country, according to the Gun Violence Archive website, which defines a mass shooting as an incident that results in four or more people shot and/or killed, not including the shooter. 

As a society, we’re wrestling with a host of questions, among them: Why is this happening? What would prompt someone to take up arms to mow down innocent victims who ended up in the shooter’s sights? What darkness is fueling the shooters’ rage and hatred?

Many of the perpetrators of these shootings have expressed a white supremacist ideology. They have focused their anger on one group or another that they blame for the troubles in their life. This anger is born of an oppressive hopelessness. They can see no way forward other than to lash out at the society that has left them marginalized, bitter and isolated. 

We Catholics know there is a balm for their wounds; it is Jesus Christ and the hope he offers all God’s children.

In their 1994 pastoral message “Confronting a Culture of Violence: A Catholic Framework for Action,” the U.S. Catholic bishops wrote: “Person by person, family by family, neighborhood by neighborhood, we must take our communities back from the evil and fear that come with so much violence. We believe our faith in Jesus Christ gives us the values, vision, and hope that can bring an important measure of peace to our hearts, our homes, and our streets.”

“The best antidote to violence is hope,” they added.

In 2017, Pope Francis gave a series of talks on Christian hope. During a general audience in 2017, Pope Francis gave advice on how to teach people to remain full of hope. Included in his advice was:

• “Believe in the existence of the most noble and beautiful truths” and trust that God, through the Holy Spirit, is ushering everything toward the good, toward “Christ’s embrace.”

• Believers are not alone in their faith. There are others who hope, too. 

• When life gets hard, and “you have fallen, get up. Never stay down. Get up and let people help you to your feet.”

• “If you feel empty and demoralized, ask if the Holy Spirit may newly replenish” that void.

• Work for peace among people.

• Don’t listen to those “who spread hatred and division.”

• “Jesus has given us a light that shines in the darkness; defend it, protect it. This unique light is the greatest richness entrusted to your life.”

• Ask God for courage every day. “Remember Jesus conquered fear for us” and “not even our most treacherous enemy can do anything against faith.”

• “Live, love, believe, and with God’s grace, never despair.”

There is always hope in Jesus, who died for our sins and conquered death. We are called to live our life filled with hope in Christ, and to share that hope with everyone we meet. We are called to be the antidote so urgently needed in this world.

Subscribe to our email list

Keep your finger on the pulse of Catholic life in Middle Tennessee by subscribing to the
weekday E-Register here.

* indicates required