Then said Jesus unto him, “Put up again thy sword into his place, for all they that take the sword shall perish with the sword. Matthew 26:52 (21st Century King James Version)
We just don’t get it, do we? We have this penchant for violence that is insatiable. Last week, we had a shooting at Los Angeles International Airport where Paul Ciancia gunned down a Transportation Security Agency agent and wounded at least three others, before he was wounded and apprehended by police. This past Monday evening, 20 year-old Richard Shoop enters Garden State Plaza Mall in Paramus, NJ and opens fire and terrifies hundreds of shoppers until he shoots himself. Tuesday night an 11 year old boy and a man were both wounded (not seriously) outside the Irvington, NJ Pathmark as the result of an alleged flirting incident. And theses are locations I’ve been to in the past-the last two within an hour’s drive from my home.
The above quote was used by Malcolm X in 1963 in response to the assassination of President John F. Kennedy, indicating the violence so easily carried out by White America wound up coming back to the top (White) American-the President. This quote actually warns that any offensive words or deeds will come back to haunt you This quote and the Kennedy analogy should be a wake-up call to us as people.
Too long has the US of A used violence as a means to an end. This nation was founded on violence: violence against First Nation peoples that tried to help European settlers; violence against Africans as they were snatched from their homeland and forced into slavery; and the Revolutionary War. Violence has walked hand-in-hand with American expansionism as First Nation lands were seized by White pioneers venturing West. Violence was used against Blacks during and after slavery to keep them “in their place”. Violence was against Jews, Catholics, immigrants, and Socialists. Violence later was used against Gays and Lesbians by homophobic heterosexuals. We use “legitimate” violence against other nations via our military. From Mexico in the 1840s to present-day Afghanistan, our troops are sent “over there”. Or we have police here at home that “shoot first, ask questions later” against perpetrators that were harmless.
Even we in the Church have given a silent nod to violence, or have given a “divine stamp of approval” onto certain acts.
Now that violence we’ve perpetrated all over the world (and here) is coming home to roost. As Jesus warned, those who take up the sword (are quick to act violently), will die by it (it’ll come back to kill them). Now it’s creeping into the “safe” suburbs like Paramus. It’s no longer in “urban” areas like Irvington or Los Angeles; it’s all over. It’s in our schools like Columbine or Red Hook (which first year anniversary’s coming up). It’s in our malls and theaters. Violence is now evading metal detectors and police checkpoints; infiltrating schools, shopping malls and airports. It’s not perpetrated by foreign terrorists; instead it’s “troubled” Americans. Our alarms, video cameras, detectors, guards, police, TSA, NSA, DHS, etc. cannot stop this violence coming home to roost.
We need to take things down a notch and engage in peaceful dialogue; let’s put the weapons and fists down to come together. We need open dialogue that will address violence in America for what it is-violence. We need to bring love to the forefront-and FAST! We need to follow the example of the Prince of Peace who was quoted at the beginning and become peacemakers. For every day we don’t, the chickens are getting fatter. Then soon, these birds are going to lay some hellacious eggs. And when these eggs hatch, God only knows what will happen then. But I know for sure it won’t be good…
…And by then it will be too late.