Once again our nation is facing tragedy in the aftermath of a mass shooting, and once again folks are taking to social media to vent their grief and frustration, and subsequently debate positions on gun control. And I fear that once again, we will soon move on, maybe with some taking a leave from social media, and then we'll forget all about those left hurting. The cycle is predictable, and little changes.
But what if there WAS something you could do? What if there was a productive way to respond that didn't involve Facebook or Twitter debates?
Right Place. Right Actions.
Part of the frustration we have with social media is that, despite all our methods of communication, messages seem to get lost in the wrong places. Your voice may be heard, but often only by folks who share your viewpoint or those who want to pick a fight. And neither groups likely have any decision making power to begin with. Our righteous desires for justice and restoration for a broken world get imprisoned by digital social bubbles.
Why waste your time on something that doesn't matter?
As Benjamin Franklin once said, "Remember not only to say the right thing in the right place, but far more difficult still, to leave unsaid the wrong thing at the tempting moment." Instead of sowing discord, let's learn to direct our energies in more productive ways.
Our friends at the Brethren National Office have already offered some helpful words of advice on how we can think about and respond to such tragedies in a more Christlike manner. See the links below for Steven Cole's comments on a Christ-like posture for using your influence and Patrick Sprague's comments on how we can respond to mass shootings with lament. These are excellent resources for how our faith ought to shape the way we think about these issues.
But here, I'd like to offer some the healthy and productive ways to use your voice and actions to make a difference.
For Christians, our first and ultimate hope is always Christ. That hope is then made tangible in the ways that we engage with others in service and relationship. Finally, that corporate expression of faith helps to inform how we engage in democracy - sharing our concerns about justice with those who shape policy and practice in our world.
Social media can be a helpful way to hear diverse perspectives, but it should never take the place of prayer and community action. Like Jesus, our love in action should always be incarnated in relationship. So how is God inviting you to respond today?
An Aid for Goshen, IN Residents
If you're like me, you might wonder where to even start when it comes to contacting your representatives. Here's some handy information on our national and district representatives. If you live outside of Goshen, your representatives will obviously be different. But y'know, just Google it.
And if you're wondering where to start with prayer, come on over to Goshen First Brethren and we can give you some pointers.