By Jim Hannah
The irony that the Tree of Life Synagogue in Pittsburgh became the scene of multiple shooting deaths on a peaceful Sabbath morning is a senseless contradiction, difficult to take in. We at PeaceWorks, Kansas City, join the nation in grief for the victims of the Oct. 27 massacre and their loved ones. No one should have to endure violence so unthinkable, so unspeakable.
And yet we all must think, and we all must speak, of what can be done to prevent future mass shootings. Some preventive measures seem self-evident: sensible gun controls on assault weapons, tighter enforcement of background checks, and closing gun-show loopholes allowing unrestricted weapons purchases. For the love of humanity, let’s take these preventive measures!
But long before the outraged and deranged take to their arms, they are often triggered by speech and misinformation designed to stir up hatred. It is here that we need to make our first stand, speaking out against lies and hate speech wherever we encounter it, be it anti-Semitism, racism, sexism, or the host of other “isms” that divide and destroy. These small acts of resistance may be our best memorial to those whose lives have been taken, answering the challenge of hate with the voice of peace/salaam/shalom.
—Jim Hannah, a retired Community of Christ minister in Independence, Mo., serves on the PeaceWorks-KC Board and the organization’s Communications Team.