Grieving Gun Violence

Today, and forever, I grieve the loss of life. I grieve for the people who died in [name of most recent shooting]. I grieve for their families, friends, and co-workers. I grieve for those who were there and feel both lucky and guilty that they survived while others died. We have witnessed another national tragedy.

I grieve for all those directly and indirectly affected by today.

I grieve for those who are reminded of their own losses. The parents and family in Newton, Connecticut, and Columbine, Colorado. The church members of the congregations in Charleston, South Carolina, and Knoxville, Tennessee. All those who know someone who has been lost in mass shooting and feel the rise of emotion that a day like today produces for them.

I grieve for those who have died and those who loved them who died when we did not pay attention. Having served as a chaplain at San Francisco General Hospital, have been trained as a Hospice Volunteer during the AIDs epidemic, I watched many people die whether they were homeless or gay or people of color and no one really noticed.

I grieve for police officers and safety officials who are trained in how to respond to mass shootings.

I grieve for workers who must look at and remove the bodies, who try and keep the wounded alive, who must tell family members that someone they loved has died or been hurt.

I grieve for the first responders who will never forget this day.

I grieve for the reporters trying to tell a story while witnessing and listening to horrific details.

I grieve for the parents who must explain today to their children.

I grieve for parents who have wondered if they should have done more when they’ve seen hatred and anger come from their children.

I grieve for the parents who simply turned away or encouraged the hatred and anger. I grieve for the parents who say they didn’t see this coming from their children.

I grieve for schools that do not have the resources to educate and manage children, where they know some children will slip through the cracks.

I grieve for those who believe there are sides and lines to be drawn.

There are no sides. We all lost today. We move forward only by laying down our own sword of words and being with one another, of seeing each other’s humanity, and reminding ourselves that the responsibility to be a human being means remembering we are one human among billions of people on this planet.

I grieve for a planet that forgets that a leading tenet of every major religion in the world is treat others as you would like to be treated.

I grieve for those who will be assumed to be bad people because they are perceive to be like a shooter—whether they be Muslim, live with mental health issues, a responsible gun owner, or similar in some other way.

I grieve for our country where we could rush to believe that only others have responsibility for today. We must come together for the sake of each other.

I grieve for those who will die and those will lose loved ones in the next shooting.

And the next.

And the next.

And the next.

And the next.

Until we decide they must stop.

Until we act.

I grieve for a country and for a planet where this violence is all too common, all too familiar, all too tragic.

I pray that each of us commits to be a little more humane, a little more compassionate, a little more willing to come together to be a part of solution.

I pray that we work together to end hatred and superiority.

I pray that we decide to become better people today.

I pray we never forget.

I pledge to remember.

I pledge to become a better person.

I pledge to be a part of the solution, however many solutions it takes.

a small rainbow quilt is draped on steps, with a mosaic of photos of the victims of Orlando's shooting
a sea of faces at a vigil in response to the Orlando shootings. Above the crowd, a rainbow flag ripples in the breeze.