Friday, December 28, 2012

Two Weeks Since...

It's been two weeks since the lives of 20 children were taken in a school in Newtown, CT.

Today is the Feast of the Holy Innocents. King Herod, afraid of this newborn king, ordered the death of all the baby boys in Bethlehem. Joseph was warned by an angel and got the Holy Family out of town and to Egypt in time to escape this. Whether this actually happened or not, is for the Bible scholars to decide.

In Germany, two years ago, I came face to face with the fascination of Holy Innocents. The Bavarian royal family kept relics of these babies (or of babies claimed to be from that massacre) in ornate reliquaries.

Holy Innocents reliquary in Munich, Germany.
Perhaps in this way, without the benefit of endless repetitive news coverage, they could remember that innocent lives can be lost through greed or cruelty. Or perhaps they were just part of the relics craze.

For all the news coverage, we don't remember that well. The children of Newtown are still uppermost in our memories, but are the children of Columbine, Aurora? The children in countries all over the world including some Western so-called civilized societies who go to bed hungry, or who are sold into slavery? (Yes, human trafficking happens in this country.)

Last week, I asked for a moment of prayer, of remembering the lost. Perhaps you still hold that town in your prayers, I know I do.

This week, I invite you consider what it is you can do for the innocents who lose their lives every day. The solution is not simple, or black and white, and I recognize we cannot do it all.

Here are some things I'm planning to do:

  1. joining with religious leaders, including those in my denomination and write to my congresspeople and ask them to pass measures of gun control, to ban assault weapons, and to make owning a gun at least as difficult as getting a car license. At least. See if we can restore research dollars to those studying firearm-based injuries, defunded since 1996 (according to the linked JAMA article).
  2. write to my congresspeople to reform mental health care -- to lead initiatives in making it okay to admit to mental health issues; to make mental health care accessible and affordable; to restore the level of care we had before institutions were closed and mentally ill people were turned out onto the streets: are they not our modern day widow and orphan? shouldn't we be taking care of them? 
  3. and as both of these tasks will reduce the murder of innocents and not eliminate it, I also will strive to change the culture around me. That this isn't the 1880's any more and the American cowboy culture is plain dangerous and needs to change. It mightn't happen in my lifetime, but I think the only way culture can change is if enough of us start behaving like it already has changed. What does a culture of love and light and loving-kindness look like?
  4. pray. How long, O Lord, how long?
You might also consider looking into ways to stop human trafficking, or by sponsoring a child to help free them from hunger. You might look at your own lifestyle and see where you are inadvertently causing harm to another human being because of the excess of your possessions or your food. (I'm going to be doing some reading on this one.)

What are you being called to do?

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