As they poured out into the streets, the screams of triumphant joy were so loud it was deafening. For the first time in the history of the school, they had just won a hard fought battle, crowning them national champions. It was unquestionably a time of exuberant celebration.
And then, without any noticeable provocation, the joyful celebration turned into a raucous riot. Windows were broken, cars were turned over on their sides, and fires began to blaze. Immediately, the police began to respond, and chaos turned into catastrophe as both law enforcement and students sustained injuries.
“Where? When?”, you may ask. The incredibly unfortunate response, is that it appears all too often after a team wins a championship and also when some lose. The real question in my mind is… “Why?”. Why has turning a time of celebration into violent rioting become normative? Has violence become so endemic in our culture that otherwise responsible college students become a menacing mob? Have we all become so desensitized to violence that we just shrug our shoulders and assume this is just the way it is?
Later this week I will be heading to Oklahoma with two young adults from ECMN to participate in a gathering called
“Reclaiming the Gospel of Peace: An Episcopal National Gathering to Challenge the Epidemic of Violence”.
Here’s the description of the gathering:
“At Reclaiming the Gospel of Peace: An Episcopal Gathering to Challenge the Epidemic of Violence, Episcopalians will come together to renew their commitment to the Gospel call to make peace in a world of violence. Through deep conversation, prayer, and skill-building the event will empower our Church to address violence and reclaim our role in society as workers for nonviolence and peace.
As Episcopalians, we are called to ‘seek and serve Christ in all persons’ and to ‘respect the dignity of every human being’. It is this foundation that guides our efforts to nourish and deepen our relationships in God’s unending mission. We all have our own unique identity and this gathering will engage all of God’s children from different parts of God’s world, recognizing and respecting the diversity of identity present in our Church and in the world.
Reclaiming the Gospel of Peace is focused around four pillars: advocacy, education, liturgy, and pastoral care. These four areas are key avenues that our Church can use to address the culture of violence within and outside of the Church and will be woven throughout all aspects of the event including plenary time, workshops, small group conversations, and worship.”
I know this gathering will not answer all of my questions but my hope is it will begin to give us all direction about how we can turn the tide of violence that is so prevalent in our society, toward peace.