by John Pavlovitz
I am grieving again today.
Once more I am mourning the senseless execution of beautiful souls torn to shreds in the prime of their lives and in the middle of their ordinary. I am grieving more premature funerals and canceled weddings and discarded futures—and I want to be alone right now.
Gun lover, please don’t tell me you’re grieving along with me today too. I just don’t think I want your company.
If you’re still against greater gun control measures—you don’t get to grieve with me today.
If you’re part of the zealous, gun-glorifying community—you don’t get to grieve with me today.
If you are a militant, unrepentant NRA apologist—you don’t get to grieve with me today.
If your right to bear arms ultimately matters more to you than the human wreckage strewn about the Umpqua campus (and schools and movie theaters and shopping malls and highways)—you don’t get to grieve with me today.
Not again. Not now. Not on the 264th mass shooting of the year in the US.
I may have accepted your condolences and prayers and claims of solidarity after the 23rd or the 76th or the 149th time… but not now.
If I do; if I allow you to bow your head with me and speak a quick prayer before moving on to the exact same posture and practice and politics, then it feels like I am just consenting to more murder. As a lover of life and person of faith I simply can’t do that in good conscience, and so I ask you to allow me to mourn in peace.
Words of sadness alone are not significant enough now.
Any expression of grief that doesn’t come with an admission that guns, their easy availability, and (perhaps most importantly) a politically fueled Wild West culture that nurtures their worship are a central part of the problem here—rings hollow to me.
Any claim of mourning that doesn’t also demand some substantial change in how we regulate firearms is just crocodile tears and a slap in the face to families of the dead.
It all feels ultimately like selfishness to me.
I have a pool in my open yard and kids keep drowning in it, yet I refuse to put up a fence, how much do I really value the loss of life?
And if I put up a fence and kids still keep getting in and dying and I don’t do more, how sincere is my grief?
And if, after what I believe to be my greatest human efforts to prevent it, my pool still fills with bodies, at some point shouldn’t my humanity kick in and determine that maybe, just maybe my desire to have a pool isn’t worth the carnage to the neighborhood?
When does my desire to have a pool become the problem?
If I really give a damn about dead kids floating in my yard, maybe I leave the pools to the professionals.
I’m sorry, but the pool here is overflowing with blood and I’m tired of it.
I’m tired of a centuries-old amendment being propped up as relevant in any way to this time and place in history and them to the purpose it was ratified in the first place.
I’m tired of a John Wayne, “cold dead hand”, OK Corral romanticism that makes guns, not some necessary evil but a sexy status symbol of true Americans.
I’m tired of partisan media sky-is-falling, fear-mongering that makes people believe their immanent danger requires an arsenal always at the ready; in their kitchens and in their cars and at their ankles.
I’m tired of a culture that sees repeated mass shootings as the acceptable collateral damage of freedom.
I fully realize if you have fully bought into the lie that says gun are absolutely necessary, entirely neutral, and constitutionally guaranteed—you really don’t care about any of this.
You know the numbers and the statistics and the reality too, but you dismiss it all or rationalize why none of it is relevant. You’ve washed your hands of culpability in the continuing crime wave and exonerated guns and you don’t care to entertain conversation—which is your right.
I’m not going to demand that you conform to my convictions.
I’m not going to try and convince you of what seems so very obvious to me, but I’m also now going to allow you the courtesy of saying you mourn as I do and suffer alongside me, because that simply isn’t true:
You grieve gun violence while loving your guns. I grieve gun violence while abhorring them.
We have a different idea of grief, you and me.
I respect your position, and reserve your right to mark this tremendous loss if you wish, but I ask that you kindly keep your distance right now because your presence is simply salt in these wounds.
So today, after yet another gun tragedy—please let me mourn in peace.