Once again, I find myself unable to remain silent amid the violence perpetrating itself upon innocent people. The massacre of the Emmanuel Nine in church Bible study in Charleston, S.C., on June 17, 2015; 49 in Orlando, Fla., at a nightclub June 12; and in July, in Minnesota, Louisiana and California, all further widen the bleeding wound in the nation’s history.
I join those churches and pastors in raising awareness that people are precious and irreplaceable. No matter the pigmentation of skin or one’s alternative lifestyle, diversity is the key to growth and love is the driving force of growth and development. Fear is the massive tool of self-destruction ingrained in self-hatred.
The pain of loss can never be felt by anyone who hasn’t had the experience, regardless of race or gender, and the nation is hurting. What we must now focus on is the survivors and life itself.
The recent massacre of innocent individuals has stirred a rash of protests and violence that has escalated in more innocent lives being taken. Women are left without husbands, mothers without sons and daughters, children without fathers and mothers, creating a great divide between life, love and the pursuit of happiness. What we must recognize isn’t that life doesn’t matter, and guns are not the problem, but rather the voice behind the violence in order to stop the nation’s blood flow.
My position is that this is a spiritual warfare. The choice is the sword or the spirit, which is the word of God that is love, the missing ingredient. Mainly, love others as you love yourself. Love is the arsenal that destroys hate. We need to have an examination of the self; the result will be to embrace diversity as an appreciation of life and not fear of that which is different. But seek to understand diversity because it is the mystery of life, the power of growth.
The creative void in the family life is also an economic destruction placed upon taxpayers trying to provide for themselves and their families. My suggestion is to create jobs with adequate wages, providing opportunities for those trying to give their families a chance to live and give back to society. The best solution to violence and appreciation of life is a good worth ethic. Working with your hands keeps one’s mind with a good frame of reference to love others as one loves self.
Respect those who have authority over you for your safety. Choose those who respect and love themselves and others.
Faith can move mountains, and will move mountains when faith is put into action, and prayer shall change things when we trust our beliefs. The mountain of hatred will be cast in the sea of love, honor and respect. Pray in secret and God will reward you openly. The storm of violence and adversity, even as the nation mourns its loss, is no match for the arsenal of love of God.
The Rev. Evelyn Johnson
Bethel AME Church, Gainesville