Up until this issue was ready to go to print, I had another column ready, one encouraging you to remember Matthew 25:35-40, to vote and to ensure that others aren’t denied the right to vote. I still encourage this.
But then 49 people were murdered in Orlando.
When I heard the news my heart broke. I was sad for those who died, for those who survived, for those who lost friends and family, for the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender community targeted. What saddened me most, though, was that the news did not surprise me.
I learned of the tragedy while visiting my sister, who lives in Charleston, South Carolina. I watched news reports on a mass shooting from the same city that almost exactly a year before lost nine people targeted because of their race. Killed in church, a place they considered safe. The LGBT Latino, Latina, Latinx community in Pulse Nightclub believed they were in a safe space too—one of their few safe spaces in a world in which even (and especially) the church rejects them.
In a society offering easy access to easily deadly weapons we can’t be surprised when mass shootings occur. In a society that justifies discrimination and breeds hate for communities considered “other,” we can’t be surprised when hate for self and others turns to violence. And we can’t write it off as an individual act by an individual person that occurred in a vacuum.
What we can do is pray. Prayer is not an empty gesture when it leads to action, insight, healing. We can listen to targeted voices—and believe them. We can continue to work to transform the context of hate. We can continue to advocate for sensible gun regulation that reduces access to high-capacity assault weapons. We can continue to be women organized for mission, organized for peace.