We rode our bikes with abandon all over town. We never locked our house. We never lost our car keys, because they were always in the ignition. While we may not have known everyone’s name, there were no strangers. No, I did not grow up in Mayberry and my parents were not Ward and June Cleaver. But as a kid I always felt safe.
All they did was go to school. All they did was go shopping at the mall. All they did was go see a movie. All they did was walk to a friend’s house. All they did was go shopping with their dad for a new car. All they did was …and every one of them was “randomly” killed by a person with a gun.
As I have shared before, I grew up in a hunting culture. Consequently, our family had a number of firearms. I learned to shoot and was taught gun safety by my father and through a course by local law enforcement. I am both comfortable with and have a very healthy respect for firearms. When one of the first school shootings happened in a community a couple of hours from where I grew up, it felt bizarre and completely random. It no longer feels that way to anyone.
Hadiya Pendleton from Chicago was a 15-year-old honor student who, two weeks after marching in President Obama’s second inaugural parade, was shot to death. Those close to Hadiya decided to honor her death and to bring attention to the epidemic of gun violence by wearing orange on her birthday, June 2nd. The Wear Orange Movement (the color that hunter’s wear so they will be seen and not accidentally shot by other hunters) now has over 85 partners including Bishops United Against Gun Violence, to which I am connected. It also coincides with National Gun Violence Prevention Day.
While our children and grandchildren may never feel the level of safety that many of us were afforded, we must confront the concept that killing one another is no longer random and acknowledge that it contradicts the foundations of all faith traditions. As such, I will be wearing orange this Thursday, June 2nd and would wholeheartedly encourage you to join me.