Once again, violence has struck our national soul. Once again, we try to make sense out of the senseless, to understand the lessons of the tragedy in Tucson.
Martin Luther King Jr., when accepting his Nobel Peace Prize, said that, “sooner or later all the people of the world will have to discover a way to live together in peace If this is to be achieved, man must evolve for all human conflict a method which rejects revenge, aggression and retaliation.”
It may be natural, in this time of our mourning the dead and wounded, to try to find all- inclusive answers and look for a place to lay blame.
This past week, news outlets, politicians, religious leaders and just plain folk have spoken, written and texted about the events that led up to this horrible event. Is it an aberration or is our country becoming so toxic with anger and rhetoric that violence of word and deed is our only way to communicate our frustrations?
Can we do anything to affect healing? Can we, each individual person, do anything to help? Yes, each of us can do a little something that can make a big change.
Part of the answer comes from Isaiah 1:18: “Come now, let us reason together.” In this age of non face-to-face communication, where we often feel free to scream negativity into a microphone or “flame” out someone’s e-mail or website, do we bring that energy to our face-to-face communication with each other — be it the clerk at a local market or the president of the United States?
Or, can we agree to disagree and yet still acknowledge each other’s humanity and right to an opinion? Can we allow the other guy to talk, can we have differing opinions calmly, can we treat each other, our elected leaders, our parents, children and neighbors with respect? Can we build that foundation of love and live together in peace and gentleness?
Whatever results come from this latest national tragedy, one thing is clear: This is a great and beautiful country of individuals who hold a wide variety of opinions on how to live. Let us use this occasion of Martin Luther King Jr.’s birth and the events in Tucson to acknowledge each and every one of us as essential parts of this country.
Dr. King dreamt that someday we would find a method to live together in kindness and peace. He also knew that “the foundation of such a method is love.”
The San Luis Obispo Ministerial Association and the Central Coast Clergy and Laity for Justice are sponsoring a candlelight vigil in memory of Dr. King and the tragedy in Tucson. It will be on the steps of the San Luis Obispo County Courthouse, 1050 Monterey St., at 5:30 p.m. Monday. For more information, call 748-8667.
The Rev. Stephanie Raphael is the president of the San Luis Obispo Ministerial Association.