Break out the “Be Peace” t-shirts!
Are you shocked and saddened by the violent rhetoric and actions filling the streets of our country during the greatest crisis we have faced in decades, or am I alone? Recently, a mob of over 1,000 appeared with assault weapons, confederate flags and other pro-slavery relics in the state capitol of Kentucky. Racism was on display, as was a display of power that could kill everyone present. They wanted to end all of the safety measures now and go back to work immediately. The symbols went much deeper than a desire to go back to work… legitimate authority was not to be respected. One way this was shown was by an outright refusal to wear masks.
In Michigan, Illinois, Texas, California, and other states, irresponsibility abounds with mobs appearing with assault weapons, nooses, and more confederate flags. Governors’ lives have been threatened. Just as disturbing, the racist symbols are obvious. The anti-life messages also cannot be missed. By refusing to wear masks, ignoring orders to avoid crowds, or even consider the health risks to vulnerable citizens, these people are willing to destroy lives to send a message. Some politicians have not even been embarrassed to say (with no subtlety) if you are over 70 years old, you should be willing to sacrifice your life so our economy can recover. The common good is nowhere to be found.
What has happened to “love your neighbor as yourself,” “my brother’s/sister’s keeper” or that commandment that reads, “Thou shalt not kill?” I have come to believe we watered down the Ten Commandments to the ten suggestions.
The signs of a new era of violence are everywhere—from nooses and assault weapons to selecting who should live and who should die, to health care for the fortunate rather than for all, to language demeaning immigrants and putting children in cages, and now, anti-Asian acts of violence. We have lost the “rally around our neighbor” attitude that was so powerful after 9/11.
Whether we are concerned about the appearance of assault weapons, rise in racist behavior or overall disrespect for life, our commitment to “be peace, build peace and preach peace” is needed now more than ever. The best modeling is not responding in kind, but instead, as Michelle Obama put it so eloquently, “When they go low, we go high” – to respond to violence with calm and to hate with peace and prayer.