Lebanon Reporter

Columns

July 11, 2014

We are created for more than this

Lord, forgive us. Forgive us when we fail as individuals. Forgive us when we fail as a nation. In the early morning hours of Saturday, July 5, a total of seven individuals were shot in the Broad Ripple district of Indianapolis. Late in the evening on the same day, Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Officer Perry Renn was shot and killed as he was responding to a call of shots fired on the northeast side of the city. Then, in the early morning hours of Sunday, July 6, Gary Police Officer Jeffery Westerfield was found shot and dead in his patrol car while he was on duty.Violence, especially violence perpetrated by firearms, has become the new normal in our culture. It only takes a few words or names to evoke mental images of past incidents of violence: Sandy Hook; Trayvon Martin; IMPD Officer Rod Bradway; Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords; Purdue University; Columbine; Waco. The violence must stop; we were created for more than this. But this is easier said than done.Matthew Tully, writing for the Indianapolis Star on July 8 said: “(Indianapolis’) problems are deep and complicated, wrapped up in issues of absentee parents and childhood neglect, drug abuse and dysfunction, and, in many cases, a culture that embraces and glorifies violence and, too often, a complete lack of respect for just about everything.” I fully agree with Tully. As I continued to read the Indianapolis Star on July 8, Erika Smith’s article hit it out of the park for me: “It's time we face it: We have a significant number of people in our community who don't give a damn about another person's life.”The Second Amendment protects the “right to bear arms” and even though I want to be bold enough to challenge this constitutionally protected right, I still don’t think that changing this amendment will end the root cause of the violence in our nation. We, of course, learned this lesson from the 1996 movie Happy Gilmore as the bright orange T-shirt worn by Happy’s boss Mr. Larson declared: Guns don’t kill people; I kill people.Guns aren’t the problem. We are.Our society needs an attitude adjustment. We must teach our children and grandchildren the value of the personhood of all individuals. We must teach the younger generations the practice of patience and compassion. We must teach those who view us as mentors and role models about the appropriate responses to anger. And, we must put into practice in our own lives these very same practices that we teach.The violence will only end when we look internally at our own tendencies to place our needs, emotions and desires above those of our neighbors. It seems like Jesus said something like this once.Rev. Anthony Stone is the Associate Pastor at Centenary United Methodist Church in Lebanon, and he serves as a law enforcement chaplain with the Boone County Sheriff’s Office.

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