After Lamentation

June 19, 2015

My colleague, Ron Robinson, posted on Facebook today that ‘after lamentation’ he feels moved to work on mentoring young the white men and boys in his neighborhood.  While I was impressed by his clarity and transparency, my heart responded, with a great surge, to those two words.  After lamentation…

When something horrible happens…for instance, the shooting of nine innocent people who had gathered to pray…we have an emotional response.  Grief.  Shock.  Horror.  Lamentation is both a corporate and a personal act of expressing those emotions.

Sometimes, I find myself wanting to skip over lamentation, and jump right into problem solving mode.  Sometimes I get stuck in lamentation.  Ron’s words reminded me that lamenting is a necessary stage through which we must pass if we are to arrive at right action.  We grieve, and then we pick ourselves up and we find a way to make the world a better place.

It’s been just over five months since we here in Moscow experienced our own horrible happening.  A young man shot four people, killing three, one of whom was his mother.  You would be hard pressed to find anyone in our little community who wasn’t close to at least one of the victims.  This is one of those cases where I may be a little ‘stuck’ in the lamenting stage.  Grief takes as long as it takes, and I’m still grieving.

However, this latest tragedy has pushed me to start thinking, again, about what needs to come after lamentation.

With regards to the Charleston shooting:

  • Continued focus on racism and discrimination here, in the local community
  • Continued focus on systemic racism in our country
    • self-education (listen, listen, listen– especially to the voices of the oppressed)
    • constructive dialog (help keep white folks I know ‘moving forward’)
    • Be an ally (listen and respond to requests, like that from the NAACP to petition SC government to stop flying the Confederate flag.)
  • Talk about the violence culture, be active in supporting gun control measures

With regards to the shooting in January, the third item, above, plus:

  • Work to increase the number and quality of resources for people with Mental Health issues locally
  • Continue to provide pastoral care for everyone impacted by the shooting.

My current wild and crazy idea is to require not just a criminal background check, but two ‘recommendations’ from family members, clergy, or mental health professionals before anyone is allowed to buy a gun.

I have to be honest…I’ve got a case of lamentation fatigue.  It’s too much.  I figured after Newtown, for sure, we’d have some reasonable legislation passed.  Enough is enough.  As a nation, we need to figure out what steps we might take ‘after lamentation.’