“More Grief – and Anger – than Gratitude”
After writing last Monday (May 23) about the COVID-19 Remembrance Vigil (a meaningful, comforting event for so many), the very next day (Tuesday, May 24) we all heard the news of the school shooting in Uvalde, Texas. The Remembrance Vigil at Church of the Cross in Hoffman Estates took place the very next day, Wednesday, May 25th.
The theme we used for the Remembrance Vigil was Grief and Gratitude – the grief we all feel over the deaths of more than 1 million people in the US from COVID-19 (over 38,000 in Illinois), and the gratitude we feel for the essential workers who saw us through – and still see us through – this time of pandemic.
On top of that collective grief and our need to lament, we were then confronted with this awful, gut-wrenching news of 19 young children and 2 elementary school teachers who were killed by a teenager with a military style weapon. The teenager also shot his grandmother, severely injuring her – and injured 17 others. The teenage shooter was then killed. Two days later (Thursday May 26) the husband of one of the teachers who was killed – he died of a heart attack, leaving 4 children without either parent.
So today (Friday, May 27) – honestly – I’m feeling much more grief that gratitude.
Yes – I am still grateful for the essential workers, who continue to serve us and help us through this pandemic. I am also grateful for police and special force officers who risk their lives and were eventually able to stop this teenager from killing more children. But today my level of grief has increased 19-fold, and along with this grief, a feeling of seething anger.
I am angry that an 18-year old teenager can buy a military style assault weapon, when that same 18-year-old teenager could not legally buy a can of beer. I am angry that anyone can buy amilitary style assault weapon, and angry at a US Congress that allowed the 1994 Assault Weapons Ban to expire with hardly a thought or care about the implications of that non-decision. And I’m angry that we do not have Universal Background Checks as a requirement to purchase any firearm. I suspect many of you are angry as well.
May the Holy One transform our anger into action – as we pray, and vote, and pursue the ways of love and justice.
Ken Hockenberry – Stated Clerk & Business Manager