May I Mourn the Charleston Attack?
I, like you, stared into a computer screen yesterday in silent horror as I read the news of the Charleston shooting. Each detail seemed to drive the hurt deeper as the story came to light.
This was a shooting at a church.
This was a racist attack on a group of African Americans in a church.
This was a racist attack on a group of African Americans leading a bible study.
This was a racist attack on a group of African Americans who invited the shooter into their bible study because they believed he wanted to be a part of it. As a Christian, this last part chilled me to my core.
Then, like most of you, I went to social media. I don’t exactly know what I was expecting, but the responses were already piling in:
“This is a terrorist attack”
“We need stiffer gun laws”
“Take down the confederate flag”
“Everyone needs guns”
And as I read through my news feed, I was shocked at how quickly the debates had started. It had taken less than a few hours and already there were opinions, sides, agendas. Maybe I’m an old soul or just not political enough, but it hurt me very deeply to see the way this massacre, this attack, this whatever, was already being dissected into tidy little slices and divvied out for argument’s sake.
The above opinions about the way we should collectively respond to this sort of tragedy are very important. These are conversations that must be had. But I also believe there is value in slowing down. If only for a day, I believe we should have quietly mourned.
When these horrible things happen, we do not take the time to mourn because it is difficult.
Mourning is Difficult
It is easier to run from pain than to face it--to feel it.
I believe it is much easier to cower behind my political opinions and social stances than it is to read the names of the 9 people who died. Learning their stories requires me to step outside myself and confront the truth that this horrible thing has happened. It is harder to climb back inside my comfortable life knowing someone of my race murdered 9 people of a different race for doing the same thing I do every week.
Or I could talk about my position on gun laws and zoom out far enough to never have to confront anything. I could make this a numbers game and talk about the statistics of gun violence or how the media depicts white people. But at this point I think that would do a a great disservice to those who have died and those who are suffering.
There is a time for conversation and a time for action. I believe there should also be a time to mourn and it should last longer than the length of time it takes to read the press release.
I guess what I’m saying is I need more time.
I want to talk about gun laws, about racist laws, about religious persecution, but I don’t think I’m ready yet and I hope that’s ok.