On October 6th and 7th I attended a training on gun violence awareness and prevention called God and Guns. The training took place at The Riverside Church in New York City. On Thursday night, we watched the film, The Armor of Light, and on Friday, we spent the day attending seminars and panels. We ended with a worship service. The two days spent learning about gun violence awareness and prevention were informative and unsettling.
What resonated most with me was the talk of common sense gun laws and how, it seems, most people are in favor of them. When conversing with people about gun violence, if in doubt, just listen.
Over the two days and the many seminars and panels that I attended, I realized that it would be easy to sit back and do nothing and let the hopelessness take over. Yet, even in those feelings, I was very conscious that doing nothing is not an option. I left knowing we must do something. We must start talking, start listening, and start doing.
I am blessed to be in a place where people want to talk, listen, and do; this realization gives me hope. Yet, there are people dying daily. People who were living lives, finding out who they were, pursuing dreams. I cannot think of that and then proceed to do nothing.
At the closing of the training, people from various faiths came together to worship, to remember, and to receive a call to action. Upon entering the sanctuary, every person was handed a card with a picture and a story. The pictures were all of different people and they were all of gun violence victims. The stories on the cards were each person’s story.
We were asked to write one thing that we would do in response to gun violence on the backs of these pictures and stories. I wrote that I would write to Congress, and I stand by this. I am going to write to a different Congress member every week for 52 weeks. Along with this, I am going to take a picture of each letter and post it to social media, and, if possible, tag the Congress member in the post.
I am not sure what impact will be made from doing this, but I know that I will be doing something. Every week for at least 52 weeks I will be doing something in response to gun violence. I will be saying this is not okay. I will be saying I do not and will not accept this as a permanent part of reality.
So, if you see my letter addressed to a Congress member on your social media with a post about gun violence prevention, I ask that you share it. I also ask that you think about and look for ways that you can say no to gun violence. And remember, when in doubt – just listen.
Metropolitan Memorial United Methodist Church
Global Mission Fellow US-2, Class of 2016-2018