Images of Peace to Counteract Violence (School Shootings)

Matthew 5:21b-22 (from the Sermon on the Mount): You have heard that it was said to the people long ago, ‘You shall not murder,[a] and anyone who murders will be subject to judgment.’ But I tell you that anyone who is angry with a brother or sister will be subject to judgment

How, as spiritual people, may we circulate positive models of peace and justice, to counteract the dreadful images of violence that saturate our society and media?

An unbalanced guy posts on social media pictures of himself in military garb.  He makes use, indiscriminately, of Islamic extremist slogans. Some reports (rumors or reality) say that he has ties to white supremacist organizations. He boasts in a Youtube comment that he is going to become a school shooter. (See article link below).

Alienated and angry,  the twisted mind will feed upon images of supposed glory, as if hatching the plot to become a superhero. These poisonous images involve guns and slaughter.  The specter of violence, and glory through shooting, latches onto one’s aggressive impulses. Full-blown fantasies gather steam. The mind rehearses scenarios of punishment against enemies; the slaughtered attest to one’s triumph.  The imagination, twisted by violence, styles one as a hero who crusades against wrongdoing.

Activists may take to the streets to get guns out of the hands of reckless people; the US contains 4% of the global population and 40% or so of all guns. Others may reflect on how to develop role models for a peaceful society and counter-images to exhibit just ways of life.

Our religious and spiritual traditions could offer us a rich repository of such images and role models. If we do not find them in our holy books and traditions, let’s create them ourselves. Or let’s create them regardless. Such positive images and stories, of peaceful and honest ways, may operate like medicines to dissolve anger and fear, and to counteract the poison that enters the human imagination, when alienated people feed on violence and fantasies that associate glory with guns.

See this article: Florida Shooting Article NY Times

 

 

 

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