“White supremacy is not a mental illness. This week alone, 34 people are dead, and 67 more are wounded because white men full of hatred shot up innocent people in public places. We live in a country where the government sanctions mass shootings by refusing to limit access to guns and blaming mental illness when a white man causes the death of black and brown people.
When will we stop accepting the lies and excuses and call it what it is? In the meantime, thousands are gathering today for Christian worship, and too many will remain silent because they mistakenly believe that racism is a Christian value. Too many people in this country have conflated Christianity and patriotism to sustain a deadly white nationalism.
If the rest of us continue to remain silent, telling ourselves that we can do nothing to change what is, then we are part of the problem. We can pray for mercy and healing for the families, the friends, the communities, but we need to be part of that mercy and that healing. God is not going to intervene and fix what we have broken magically. What are you willing to do to end white supremacy in this country? God is waiting for us to live out the commandment to love our neighbors, ALL of our neighbors.
Let us stop believing the lies and excuses of those with power and call mass shootings what they are – white men acting out their nationalist views. This is not mental illness. This is terrorism. Moreover, we must join together to end it.”Finding Hope in the Aftermath…Again by Rachael Keefe
This was my post on Sunday morning. It was two mass shootings in as many days, three in the week. I keep asking myself, “When will it end?” When will our lawmakers change the laws that protect access to guns over the lives of innocent people? When will faithful people of all traditions come together and demand change? When will the church come together and embody Christ in ways that clearly demonstrate the love of neighbor and care for the vulnerable among us?
I wish I could say that it is all going to be okay. I wish I could offer some words of comfort for those whose fear and anxiety keep climbing. I wish I could promise that no more children will die, no more blood will stain our streets, and no more parents will cry out over the lifeless bodies of their children. I wish…
Yet, I know there is nothing I can say to quiet the fear or ease the grief. I know that my words alone are not enough. Neither is yours. However, I’ve been a pastor for more than half my life, and I feel compelled to search for hope amidst the horrors. I cannot remain silent while murder is blamed on “mental illness,” and white supremacy isn’t called out for what it is. One of these things is a sin, and mental illness isn’t it. One of these things distorts the truth of who we are as children of a loving God, and mental illness doesn’t do this on a national level. Racism, white supremacy, is the sin that is killing us and holding us hostage in a system predicated on violence, hatred, and division.
I wish I could find words enough to open eyes and hearts and create a vision of peace, for justice that includes all people, all people everywhere. These shootings have not occurred because the shooters have a mental illness. These shootings have happened because the shooters are steeped in hatred and violence. They can also get their hands on weapons that have no place outside of a warzone (and even there, their value is questionable).
If you or someone know has a mental illness, a mental health challenge, a brain disorder, or a brain disease, take care to surround yourself with love and beauty and peace. Don’t listen to those whose ignorance blames mental illness for extreme violence. Don’t listen to those who say that mental illness is a sin or a punishment from God or something that is somehow your fault. It’s nonsense. Try not to let the chaotic feel of random violence in the world rob you of the wellness and wholeness that you seek. God sees your wholeness when those around you only see your brokenness.
If you are a Christian, then you are called to bring the Realm of God into the here and now by loving your neighbor, yourself, the whole of Creation, and your God with the same love God has for you. There is no room for white supremacy, white nationalism, and the violence it perpetrates on the vulnerable among us. I have an as-with-one-so-with-all approach to church. Meaning, if one among us has a mental illness, the Body of Christ has a mental illness. We are not to be ashamed of this. Instead, we are to follow the mandate so eloquently restated by Paul in 1 Corinthians; to care for the most vulnerable among. In other words, love fiercely and fully the whole person.
Now, I realize this is problematic when it comes to white supremacy. If one person among us is a white supremacist, then the Body of Christ is a white supremacist. This concept should be shocking to all of us, and we need to be doing everything in our power to make this not be true. So while we work to end the stigma around mental illness by speaking the truth about the causes of mass shootings, we will also be bringing to light what is really shaming about the church in the U.S. today. Maybe then, healing can take place.
Now I want to apologize for the scattered intensity of what I have written here. If you’re still reading, here’s the hope I have for you, for me, for this country, and for our world. Sin has not yet scared God away from Creation. Our capacity to hate one another and dream up new excuses for violence and murder and degradation has not put an end to God’s steadfast love for us. Love, agape, the kind of love God has for us is the answer. This love will allow us to see beyond the arbitrary differences we’ve been taught to fear and/or judge in one another. This love will enable us to view God in every human face. This love will cause us to choose safety for all over easy access to guns. This love will challenge us to build a society based on interdependence and mutuality rather than power and division. This love can make hatred and fear of the “other” a thing of the past.
I’m not sure I’ve done an excellent job expressing the turmoil I feel or extending the invitation to join me in active hope that will save the lives of our neighbors. I still wish I could tell you that everything will be okay. It won’t be until you and I and all who call one of God’s many names begin to treat all of our neighbors the way we wish to be treated. This is my hope. This is my goal. Maybe you will join me…In the meantime, may Peace find you, grasp hold of you, transform you, and lead you into the fullness of life grounded in love.
Rev. Dr. Rachael Keefe
Rev. Dr. Rachael Keefe is an author, and the pastor of Living Table United Church of Christ in Minneapolis, MN. You can find links to her blog, video series, and books at Beachtheology.com