” ‘Peace, Peace’ Where There Is No Peace”
These words of the ancient prophet call us to take our heads out of the sand, to face the reality of tragedy and injustice of yet another “American-style” incident of mass shooting. Within a week, both a Planned Parenthood clinic in Colorado Springs and a holiday party in San Bernardino became scenes of death and devastation. The temptation is great, in this holiday time, to turn away, drawing the circle tight around ourselves, our families, our friends.
People of faith — of many religious faiths, and of faith in the human story — are reexamining the heart of their values in light of this violence. How can we say “peace, peace” when we can see full well the searing violence around us? What does it mean for Christians to sing of “peace on earth” when clearly such peace is lacking?
May our words not be shallow platitudes. May they not be denials of reality. And may they not return to us empty. When we say “peace,” it is a proclamation that this violence must not, cannot, will not be the last word. When we say “peace,” it must be more than a word. It must mean action.
Monday, December 14, is the third anniversary of the deadly shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut. These deaths, and all victims of gun violence including suicide, will be remembered in a bell ringing ceremony at noon, at Lakeplace Park (corner of Lake Avenue and Superior Street) in downtown Duluth. Your physical presence makes the call for peace more than just words. At the same time, houses of worship across the city will be ringing their bells, a widely audible witness to the reality of lives lost, and of the hope for something better.
A coalition of faith communities is working on a Faith Summit to address gun violence, to be held in late February in Duluth. Watch for more information on this event, which will include a variety of action steps that can be taken towards the fulfillment of the promise of peace. While we cannot prevent all tragedies, every action we take can lessen the odds. Every action is a small fulfillment of the call and proclamation: “Peace; peace.”