The recent tragic mass shootings in Dayton, Ohio and El Paso, Texas, killing at least 29 people, point to an ongoing epidemic of mass shootings in the United States. As of Aug. 5, the 217th day of the year, there were 255 mass shootings — more mass shootings than number of days so far this year.
When both mass shootings and single shootings are added together, everyday on average 100 Americans are killed with guns and hundreds more are shot and injured.
When compared to other wealthy nations and many low-income countries, the U.S.’s rate of gun violence is far greater, according to the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation.
While common sense gun control laws like universal background checks and gun registration, as well as banning the sale of semi-automatic weapons would certainly help stem this epidemic, the problem runs far deeper than reasonable legislation can adequately address.
The U.S., as well as so much of the world, is addicted to the evil of violence.
Just consider how widespread and far-reaching are the global tentacles of violence: 55 million annual abortions, infanticide, euthanasia, drug gangs, child soldiers, religious/ethnic/racial persecution, dozens of armed conflicts, armed militias, war preparation, arms manufacturing, arms sales, the violent “entertainment” industry and the astronomical global military spending of $1.7 trillion annually.
And then there are the many other cruel realities that human beings suffer from, that at first glance may not appear violence-related, but, in truth inflict grave violence to the human dignity of countless brothers and sisters. Among these cruel realities are closed borders to desperate migrants and refugees, hunger, poverty, homelessness, people lacking clean water/sanitation/medical care, abandoned orphans, forgotten elderly, human trafficking and child labor.
Dare we not forget there are two other evil categories of violence which are threatening the very existence of life on earth: the ominous reality of nuclear weapons — with the very real possibility of nuclear war anytime, and the unfolding catastrophic violence to our common home — the earth — caused principally by human-induced climate change.
Both of these looming dangers have led the prestigious Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists to report that their Doomsday Clock is perilously still at 2 minutes to midnight.
In the words of Pope Francis we need to create a “culture of encounter” with all people — even our enemies.
“But to you who hear I say, love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you. … Do to others as you would have them do to you,” said Jesus.
Violence is not the way of Jesus. This is indisputable!
The late preeminent theologian and biblical scholar, Father John McKenzie said, “If Jesus does not reject violence for any reason, we do not know anything about Jesus. Jesus taught us not how to kill but how to die.”
So, following the example of the non-violent Jesus, let us teach, preach, work and pray to root out violence in ourselves, governments, corporations, schools, cultures and even in our church — e.g. the “just-war” theory.
Saint Pope John Paul powerfully said, “Violence is evil, that violence is unacceptable as a solution to problems, that violence is unworthy of man. Violence is a lie, for it goes against the truth of our faith, the truth of our humanity. Violence destroys what it claims to defend: the dignity, the life, the freedom of human beings.”
Tony Magliano is an internationally syndicated social justice and peace columnist. He is available to speak at diocesan or parish gatherings. Tony can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.