Friday, June 19, 2015
Broken In Charleston
The massacre of 9 people including the pastor during a Bible study and prayer meeting at Emanuel African Episcopal Church in Charleston, SC, Wednesday evening was a defining moment---in many ways.
As authorities have begun to question 21 year old Dylann Storm Roof to learn what they can from this tragedy, we as Americans can learn from it as well.
The stark contrast in words and tone from the initial responses of high profile leaders can teach us a great deal.
President Obama called for more gun control and criticized America saying, "This type of mass violence does not happen in other advanced countries."
Hillary Clinton said, "We have to face hard truths about race, violence, guns and division."
South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley held back tears as her voice cracked, and she said, "We woke up today and the heart and soul of South Carolina was broken."
President Obama, reacting to the horrific massacre said, "We don't have all the facts, but we do know that, once again, innocent people were killed in part because someone who wanted to inflict harm had no trouble getting their hands on a gun." Adding, "At some point, we as a country will have to reckon with the fact that this type of mass violence does not happen in other advanced countries."
Joel Pollak writes, "Obama is wrong on both counts. Innocent people were killed because a murderer---likely motivated by racial hatred---had a gun, But guns in the right hands have stopped, or interrupted similar attacks before.
Pollak reminds his readers that in South Africa, for example, a parishioner stopped a mass shooting by a black nationalist group against a multi-racial congregation by firing his .38 revolver at the assailants who ran away.
Parishioner Charl van Wyk later wrote a book about his experience called, "Shooting Back: The Right and Duty of Self Defense."
Van Wyk, who works as a full time missionary, is a passionate advocate of the right to bear arms---from a Christian perspective.
Pollak also questions, with facts, whether or not America is actually "worse" than other countries. His article is linked above.
Hillary said, "The shock and pain of this crime of hate strikes deep. Nine people, women and men, cut down at prayer. Murdered in a house of God. It just broke my heart."
"That, of course, is the last place we should see violence," she told the press.
Although more restrained than the president, she too used the moment to energize the anti-gun debate, saying, "How many people do we need to see cut down before we act," pledging to "find answers together."
"In order to make sense of it," she said, "we need to be honest, we have to face hard truths..."
It was South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley who actually embraced the answers Hillary seeks to find.
And with a broken heart she faced the "hard truths."
News services across the country reported yesterday, "Gov. Nikki Haley (R-SC) held back tears as her voice cracked and she said, 'We woke up today and the heart and soul of South Carolina was broken'."
She thanked the first responders, pastors and Christian leaders who were already rallying to help.
She said we have some grieving to do, and we've got some pain we have to go through.
She continued: "Having said that, we are a strong and faithful state. We love our state. We love our country. Most importantly we love each other. And I will tell you there's a lot of prayer in this state. So you are going to see all of us trying to lift these fine families up in prayer, because they need us. The AME church needs us. The AME church family needs us. And the people of South Carolina need us to come together and be strong for what has happened."
Haley, a Christian, then defines how Hillary and all others concerned can "find answers": "And so, with that, where do we go from here? We allow ourselves to grieve. We allow ourselves to pray. We allow ourselves to question why this happens, and then we allow ourselves to heal. And so the healing process will start."
She concluded with, "I will tell you it is a very, very sad day in South Carolina. But it is a day that we will get through. It is a day that we will remember. It is a day that will allow us to get stronger."
The city is weeping in its brokenness, crushed by grief.
This is a time for healing, not politics and posturing.
"The Lord is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit" (Psalm 34:18).