Tuesday, June 14, 2016

Fight the Violence with one simple thing - Love

Pop! Pop! Pop, pop, pop!  I stood in my living room and heard the loud blasts outside. My husband was standing in the front yard with a rake in his hand. I stepped out on the front porch as a car sped by within a few feet from where he was standing. The windows of the small sedan were down. The passenger in the car was shouting profanities out into the street. I didn’t see it but I knew the smoking gun was in his hand.

It was a drive-by shooting targeting a house just a few doors down from ours. Property was the only thing damaged by the bullets that day. It had happened before. That was four years ago. Reports of similar stories still make the local news.

I know profiling is controversial, but if you were profiling me, my detail sheet would look something like this:  Female, Caucasian, middle-aged, married to a minister, modest wardrobe, goes to work Monday through Friday, attends church every Sunday under the tallest Baptist steeple in town, spends her money at Walmart and BiLo, leisure time includes sitting on the front porch reading books with a half priced soda or slush from Happy Hour at Sonic. I’m not exactly a poster child for street gang recruitment.

That’s my life in this small, rural, South Carolina Lowcountry town. It’s hard to reconcile the fact that there are only two or three houses that separate my life from some that involve violence and gunfire, but the truth is both extremes are present on the street where I live.
I used to think my situation was unique. My sense of that was upended a year ago on Wednesday, June 17, 2015 when nine people were shot and killed inside Charleston’s Emanuel AME Church. Violence invaded a sanctuary of peace. It didn’t happen on the street where I live, but it was close to home in more ways than distance alone.

Two weeks after the Emanuel AME Church tragedy, I backed my car out of our driveway just before nine o’clock in the morning. I noticed three police cars parked a few yards down the street. Later I learned that a gunman had entered a nearby house and opened fire on a couple asleep in bed. They both sustained several gunshot wounds but survived. I had slept peacefully while gunshots were their alarm.

The ground I walk on every day also dirtied the feet of soldiers as far back as the Revolutionary War. There have been countless pairs of dusty shoes trudging across this same soil waging wars both big and small. The fight is always about wanting what we do not have or keeping what we do have. The details of the conflict may change, but the enemy is always the same. As a Christian I know that the real enemy is the spiritual forces of evil. I know the real fight is not against flesh and blood. But, there are often flesh and blood casualties. I’ve always wondered about that word, casualties. There is nothing casual about it when people die. When life is taken away by force, it is serious. It’s the kind of seriousness that should motivate us to fight the injustice.

Just before his crucifixion Jesus said, “Love one another.” He was speaking to his disciples in an intimate conversation among their small group. He wasn’t talking to or about people who didn’t believe the good news of the gospel. He was telling them to love each other, their fellow disciples. He knew that after his death and resurrection, they were going to need each other more than ever. It was a warning that the streets where they lived were about to get dangerous and that they were going to need to cling to each other for survival.

In that same conversation with the disciples Jesus went on to explain that loving each other would be what people outside their circle would notice. If others see that their love is genuine, they just might want it for themselves. Sharing love with someone doesn’t diminish how much you have, it multiplies it.

Police reports show that quaint small towns, church sanctuaries, and the street where I live are not immune to today’s violence. They are also not immune to love and compassion. Love is powerful. Showing, sharing, and spreading it is a responsibility I need to take seriously, for the sake of all the potential casualties. 

This was originally posted on www.walterborolive.com 

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