Paranoia and Demagoguery or Hope

Yesterday was the day some people thought the world might end.

It didn’t. Instead, the big news of the day was the NRA suggesting that the response to the deaths of our children in Connecticut last week should be to have armed guards in all of our schools and create a national database of the mentally ill in the country.

The paranoia and demagoguery reflected in the NRA’s comments are deeply upsetting. Because if one is convinced we need guns at schools, why not guns in every day care center, every hospital, every heavily trafficked street corner?

Why not churches? Then we can sit and pray to the Incarnate God who met violence with love, with guns in our laps ready to protect ourselves from anyone we perceive to be a threat.

Is that the society we believe we’ve become? Is that a society we want to be?

If that is our vision of our future – a vision without hope, the world might as well have ended yesterday.

I’ve watched the post Newtown commentary with deep (and growing) sadness, shaking my head as people say, “It’s not about guns, it’ about mental illness.” Or “It’s not about mental illness, it’s about guns.” Or “it’s not about guns or mental illness, it is that we’ve locked God out of schools.”

The problem with “it’s not A, but B” analyses, is that they seek simple solutions to complicated issues, and that they tend to promote the simple solutions that happen to be consistent with the promoters’ already-existing views. We do need some meaningful regulation of guns in this country. And we desperately need a sounder approach to mental illness. We also need to, as my friend Mark Osler wrote earlier this week, to be more effective evangelists. We need to do more to help those without one to develop a personal relationship with God.

And we need hope. Hope in God. Hope that we can do better. Hope that we can be better. And responding to gun violence by promoting more guns is not a reflection of hope.

I ended the last session of our Advent Retreat in Daily Living on Monday by reading this Advent Credo. It is worth sharing again in this context.

It is not true that creation and the human family are
doomed to destruction and loss—
This is true: For God so loved the world that
He gave his only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him
shall not perish but have everlasting life;

It is not true that we must accept inhumanity and discrimination,
hunger and poverty, death and destruction—
This is true: I have come that they may have life, and that abundantly.

It is not true that violence and hatred should have the last word,
and that war and destruction rule forever—
This is true: Unto us a child is born, unto us a Son is given,
and the government shall be upon his shoulder,
his name shall be called wonderful councilor, mighty God,
the Everlasting, the Prince of peace.

It is not true that we are simply victims of the powers of evil
who seek to rule the world—
This is true: To me is given authority in heaven and on earth,
and lo I am with you, even until the end of the world.

It is not true that we have to wait for those who are specially gifted, who are the prophets
of the Church before we can be peacemakers—
This is true: I will pour out my spirit on all flesh and
your sons and daughters shall prophesy,
your young men shall see visions and your old men shall have dreams.

It is not true that our hopes for liberation of humankind, of justice,
of human dignity of peace are not meant for this earth and for this history—
This is true: The hour comes, and it is now, that the
true worshipers shall worship God in spirit and in truth.

So let us enter Advent in hope, even hope against hope.
Let us see visions of love and peace and justice.
Let us affirm with humility, with joy, with faith, with courage:
Jesus Christ—the life of the world.

I choose hope.

[Update on 4/29/15 – When I originally posted this, I attributed the Credo to Daniel Berrigan.  As corrected by the comment from Robert Ellsberg, the Credo is by Allan Boesak.]

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One thought on “Paranoia and Demagoguery or Hope

  1. Please correct the attribution of the Advent Credo credited to Daniel Berrigan. By error this was included in his book TESTIMONY (Orbis 2004). In fact it is by Allan Boesak, published in WALKING ON THORNS (Eerdmans, 1994).
    Robert Ellsberg, Publisher, Orbis Books

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