Does this have to be America?

By John Mark Boes

Does this have to be America?

It has happened again. News is breaking this morning that there is, yet again, another active shooter at a high school in Santa Fe, Texas. It is too early to know fully the extent of the casualties from this tragic event. However, even one casualty is too many.

But, does this have to be America?

Recently, the artist Childish Gambino released a music video for a new song, “This is America.” Gun violence is pervasive throughout the video. The incredibly jarring nature of the corresponding music video is less surprising and more indicting. It would seem that Childish Gambino’s song “This is America” is even more true today than it was when it debuted. Graphic depictions of gun violence are depicted in the music video. “This is America” is a sobering depiction of the reality of life in America.

But, does this have to be America?

I am tired and weary of kids being gunned down in classrooms and school hallways. I am angry at the notion of thoughts and prayers from those with legislative power who are paralyzed with inaction in the face of declining campaign contributions. I am disillusioned with those who value a gun’s trigger over the lives of those who have been made in the image of God.

But, does this have to be America?

In the wake of this most recent school shooting in Santa Fe, Texas, CNN reported that there have been 22 school shootings this year with injuries or deaths, which averages out to more than one shooting every week. The death toll continues to rise from school shootings. Apparently, there is no end in sight.

As Americans, we are used to this pattern now. We know how this goes. Politicians will send thoughts and prayers. The news cycle will maintain coverage for a while, until the next news story drowns it out. The Gun Lobby will ensure that its interests are maintained all while showing a public face of concern at more senseless deaths. Business will continue as normal.

Now more than ever it is time to embrace God’s call for justice. Now is the time for a comprehensive response which should include sensible gun control legislation. Now is the time to stand for our children rather than tools of death and destruction. Now is the time for business to change. Now the people of God must reject the idolatry of guns, instead, boldly proclaiming the transformative power of God’s redemption. Now is the time to say that gun violence is a spiritual problem, not just a political one.

Despite all of the evidence to the contrary, this does not have to be America. The scourge of gun violence is real. Yet, the biblical witness is rife with stories of God’s overwhelming power to transform even the direst of situations into testaments of hope. The valley of dry bones in Ezekiel 37, new Jerusalem in Revelation, and the Crucified Christ followed three days later by the Resurrected Christ all signal God’s clarion call for hope in the face of violence and death.

To be sure, we can continue with the status quo. However, more innocent lives will die if we do. Of that, I am sure. Or, we can demand that our elected leaders do something, anything about the destruction that is wrought on schools, churches, and communities by the simple act of pulling a trigger. No, this does not have to be America. But, it is up to us, people of faith, to make sure it is not.

John Mark Boes is CBF’s Partnerships and Advocacy Specialist. John Mark is a former teacher having completed service with Teach for America. John Mark’s wife is a teacher. Both John Mark and his wife coach youth volleyball.

5 thoughts on “Does this have to be America?

  1. More and more the blog voices coming from CBF reflect the politically correct left leaning social views of the elite rather than the common sense view from the people in the pew. There’s no speaking truth to power. It’s just regurgitating the media talking points with a little churchspeak thrown in. In this post for example, the only thing ecumenically Christian was the “Now is the time to say gun violence is a spiritual problem, not just a political one.” But the writer seems to think politics by way of legislation is the answer to the spiritual problem. Gimme a break. Please get the sectarian political bias out of the CBF. Since when has legislating morality ever changed a heart?

    • Even your 22 school shootings this year citation is misleading. That number includes accidental discharges, gang violence and domestic violence, university shootings and incidents that did not even include students. One would think a denominational blog would not mislead its readers with half truths.

    • The author of the reflection is a former public school teacher (metro-Atlanta) and Teach for America alum. His reflection represents his opinion and also is a “view from the pew” as the author is a lay leader, not professional clergy.

      Thank you for sharing your opinion here on this platform, the CBFblog.

      • The author is currently CBF’s Partnership and Advocacy Specialist presumably compensated by CBF. My critique stands.

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