The bishop of Nevada, +Dan Edwards reflects on the gun violence in Las Vegas and his thoughts on causes:
Our hearts break yet again over another mass shooting. This time it happened here in Nevada at a country music festival. It feels more real to us. From children slaughtered in a Colorado high school and a Connecticut elementary school to young adults at a gay nightclub in Orlando to Black worshippers in a South Carolina church to county music fans in Nevada, violence strikes any and all of us randomly. The perpetrators sometimes clothe their crime in an ideology – sometimes religious, sometimes political, sometimes racial, and sometimes not at all. The common thread is the choice of violence as a response to the satisfactoriness of the world.
If we muster the will, there are steps we could take to curb the gun violence. We do not need to interfere with anyone’s hunting rifles or even their handguns to say that no one has a legitimate need for such an arsenal of automatic weapons as Stephen Paddock unleashed on his victims. In the Las Vegas shooting, bad as it was, it could have been worse. Many were saved by hearing the shots and taking cover. Congress is now considering legislation to make silencers more freely available. Silencers will increase the number of fatalities and injuries. We have before us ways to make things better or worse. The choice will be ours.
But the weapons are just the implements of three deeper forces at work in society today. First, is our veneration of violence not only as a way to solve problems but as a way to validate ourselves as people who matter. Movies, t v programs, video games, comic books, popular music, and numerous consciousness-shaping voices are the catechesis of a false religion New Testament scholar Walter Wink called The Myth of Redemptive Violence. The bad guy oppresses the good guy until the good guy is justified in violence against the bad guy. That violence sets everything right and everyone lives happily ever after. History teaches us how false that myth is. Wink said the whole Bible starting with the creation story in Genesis and culminating in the teachings of Jesus was a repudiation of The Myth of Redemptive Violence. Yet, that myth is practically the established religion of 21st Century America. If there is danger from Korea, chaos in Venezuela, bullying in a school, or discord in a home, our imaginations turn to violence as the response. We respect people for their ability to kill, make heroes of them, define them as our role models.
He also believes we are “addicted to discord” and there is “an unraveling of community” that is a root cause. What do you think? What forces do you think are behind these acts?
Read it all here.
In 2014 Bishop Edwards made this video on gun violence