I am probably the most liberal christian you will ever meet. I am pro choice, pro universal health care, and generally, pro stricter gun laws. I enjoy an alcoholic beverage now and again and I frequently listen to Eminem and bust out my not so great rapping skills. Some of my best friends are Gay and I support their right to love freely and marry who they please. I don’t stand for “high and mighty” Christians who try and force their beliefs on others and I don’t support those who look down on atheists and other non christian groups. I attend church every Sunday, participate on the worship team, greeting team, and anywhere else they may need me ( we will see if that changes after this post). I am a youth leader on Wednesday’s and I study my bible in my own personal time. I say these things to give you, the reader, some background and insight into my views. I do not stand with the majority of believers who push religious law on others and have a tight grip on their guns. I stand with the outcasts.
Whenever these mass shootings happen, I don’t shy away from expressing my opinion on Facebook, no matter how unwelcome it may be. I immediately call for tighter gun laws and more money devoted to mental health services. Occasionally, I write a heartfelt post about loving others and ending the stigma associated with mental illness, but more often than not, my focus is on guns.
Why can we get guns so easily? Why do mentally unstable people have access to firearms? These have been my questions, but they will not be asked by me again. Instead, I am focusing my attention to the actions that have taken place before these mass shootings.
Some information has been brought forward in regards to this most recently shooting that has put tears in my eyes most of the day. Now, before I go on, please be aware of two things:
1) I am not blaming the shooting victims who tragically lost their lives and were severely injured yesterday.
2) I am not justifying the actions of the shooter.
It has been reported that this shooter suffered from mental illness, and stopped getting help when he reached adulthood. There have also been several accounts of bullying brought forward by other gamers. The shooter was bullied. He was harrassed, picked on, called weird, and other gamers talked openly about the chances of him becoming a mass shooter, right in front of him. At that time, he was the victim. Did this give him the right to take lives? Absolutely not, but maybe it can give us a little insight on what we can do to end this in America.
We put so much focus on not being the “weird” person. We don’t like to hang out with them because they constantly complain about their lives, they smell bad, they are rude and arrogant. We dread being next to the person with Bipolar Disorder because we “just don’t know what mood they will be in today.” The schizophrenic is confined to her house because her family refuses to be seen with her in the store. The girl with anxiety is never called to hang out because there was one time where she freaked out in a crowded movie theater. Do any of these situations strike a cord in you? Probably not, because we generally do not see the error in our own ways. We are so good and seeing the weirdness in others, but when we need to look within ourselves and see our faults, we are blinded by our egos.
Maybe the answer to mass shootings doesn’t lie within the gun laws. Maybe it isn’t about funding mental health services. Maybe it IS about our relationship with the mentally ill and how we perceive their actions. Maybe if we stopped bullying those who are different from us we would receive the funding for mental health services that we so desperately need, because it would stop being taboo. Maybe if we made an active effort to love each other, we would see less violence.
Why is it so hard for us to accept each other?
Why is it so easy for ladies at church to exclude the woman with piercings, blue hair and tattoos?
Why are Gay rights even a question? Shouldn’t all people have the rights they deserve?
Why do we fight over race when we are all human?
It is so easy for us to look for the divisions that separate us into groups, but those small groups will never change the fact that we are all humans sharing this earth. We all deserve love, attention, and happiness no matter the paths we choose to take.
So, I am taking my attention off of gun laws and putting my focus on people. People who need my encouragement, my trust, my love, and my time. People who deserve the best in this life, no matter the cards they have been dealt. There are people all over our communities who struggle each day with mental health issues, and I will no longer watch as they struggle alone. I will no longer stand by and watch a person be bullied and harrassed. I refuse to stay quiet, and I hope you will too.
My truth is not your truth, and I don’t expect you to live the life I do.
You are loved.
You were created for a purpose.
You are not alone.