Seems my blogs here are more and more about violence in the world. As our Annual Convention commenced on Friday, word was spreading of the terrible carnage in Paris. I quickly asked for prayers from those present, and I had to say “prayers for all those in the world who are victims of violence.” Because there are so many, and because we often pick and choose which ones move us most. The Rev. Shelly Fayette, rightly, pointed this out to me. On the very same day 22 people were killed by explosions in Baghdad and 43 in Beirut. Hundreds have died in Gaza, and in other places around the world.
It is interesting that we did not see the worlds reaction to these, the colors of their flag taking over national monuments across the world. Could it be that that is because those losses were “them”? Could it have anything at all to do with their religion, their ethnicity? I think those are questions we are going to have to work on, seriously.
While still in our convention the Dean of the American Cathedral Lucinda Laird sent out her first letter since the Paris attacks. I commend the entire letter to you as she asks for prayers, but the last paragraph is worth repeating here.
…I urge you to give some serious thought to next steps. Your expressions of support are strong and genuine – but where do they go? We have all held each other up before – after the Charlie Hebdo shootings, for instance, and after 9/11 – and shared a strong sense of unity. I’m not sure where I am going with this; I only mean that our prayers must lead us to action. Here in France I suspect there will be very, very strong anti-Muslim sentiment, and one thing we must do is stand with our Muslim brothers and sisters, and foster conversation and understanding. I think we also need to work harder to care for the flood of refugees fleeing terror in their own countries – work for immediate care and for political solutions. You will need to find your own mission in the US, but I know that it must involve continued dedication and commitment to making justice and making peace, and being a light in the darkness.
Where do they go? Who do we mourn? What do we mourn? These questions beg for answers not in relation to the events themselves but even more our reaction and response to them and to those who are victims of them.