“For they sow the wind, and they shall reap the whirlwind.” -Hosea 8:7
Sowing to the wind… the prophet Hosea was protesting the political systems and religious practices of the time, especially in trusting “things” and people rather than God. As someone who doesn’t practice the discipline of scripture memorization, I’m intrigued that this is a verse that has ingrained itself in my mind.
When I think of it though, I’m usually thinking of it in terms of being caught in the whirlwind. One could say that suffering the ill effects of someone’s bad decision or bad action or even lack of action is suffering the whirlwind. As a society we all are caught in the various whirlwinds created by our politicians (in unjust policy), our decisions (in our voting, consumer habits,etc), our privileges (in our inability to truly see those around us), and the crimes of others.
Today I’m thinking of the whirlwind of gun violence. As I think of the latest shootings I remember Sandy Hook. I’ll never forget reading of that tragic event while waiting for our preschool Christmas program to start. I could barely speak words of welcome to the parents who’d gathered to hear their own precious children sing. I later preached on this tragedy, using the words of a Christmas hymn, “It Came Upon the Midnight Clear.” The first half of verse 3 speaks to our nation:
And you, beneath life’s crushing load,
Whose forms are bending low,
Who toil along the climbing way
With painful steps and slow…
The seemingly never-ending cycle of gun violence, of mass shootings and massacres bends us low even if we don’t realize it. The pain associated with such tragedies should propel us towards a better way but unfortunately we are right now politically unable to to move.
After Sandy Hook. After Charleston. After Orlando. After San Bernadino. After. After After. After all these, I’ve found myself in “discussions” with gun advocates, as I try and implore them to be part of the solution. Sadly these discussion have never gone anywhere. I am as guilty as anyone else in my inability to engage in constructive dialogue here (and elsewhere). I continue to believe that those of us who see no need for guns must work with those who are responsible gun owners to find ways off this painful and crushing road.
Now we have a mass shooting of politicians. Specifically politicians who oppose gun control, along with a lobbyist and two police officers. Yesterday morning, upon seeing the news my first thought was, “we continue to reap the whirlwind.” I prayed for those who were injured and for our nation. And I entered the surreal experience of having a totally unproductive argument with gun control advocates.
This happened on Facebook (which is also the location of my other unproductive “discussions” with gun advocates). Specifically, I looked upon my Facebook feed and saw the following:
Congress passed a Bill allowing mentally ill to purchase guns. I’m not saying they deserved it, but at least no one innocent was shot.
I immediately objected to the statement that “no one innocent was shot.”
The truth is that innocent people were shot. The capitol police officers were innocent. I kept trying to make that point and a couple people conceded. But the reality is that even if one qualifies as statement to say, “I’m not saying they deserved it”, by saying “no one innocent was shot” is indeed inferring that they deserved it.
Were the politicians innocent? I disagree with just about everything Steve Scalise stands for and advocates for, especially when it comes to race. But my disagreement does not mean I can dehumanize him or others. They are victims of a man who set out yesterday to create mayhem and to further damage our nation. To say they were not innocent does nothing except further divide our nation.
In following the commands of Jesus to “love my neighbor as myself,” I will choose to pray for the injured; have compassion for the injured; and continue to advocate for the removal of these weapons of mass carnage from our streets.
The second half of the third verse:
Look now, for glad and golden hours
Come swiftly on the wing;
Oh, rest beside the weary road
And hear the angels sing!
This song is of the angels singing of the peace that accompanies Jesus’ coming. Maybe as we all pause, and rest alongside the weary road of gun violence we can learn to see one another a valuable human beings. And when we see one another we can learn to listen to one another. And in listening may we find peace. That is my continued prayer.