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  • Writer's pictureHoward McBroom

Sacramento and Grief

At 2am on Sunday, April 3rd in downtown Sacramento, a fight broke out, escalating into the worst mass shooting in the history of Sacramento. 6 people were killed and 12 were wounded. This is the city’s second mass murder in five weeks. The other shooting occurred at a church last month when a guy got angry at his wife for getting a restraining order against him. To get back at her, he shot and killed her children, then killed himself. This year alone, there have been 120 mass shootings in the United States, equaling over one per day.

What is this tidal wave of grief doing to America? When this happens, people fall into a black hole of grief that’s hard to get out of. Your children are supposed to bury you, you’re not supposed to bury your children. What does this kind of mass grief do to our psyche? I don’t think enough attention has been giving to this question. Everybody is screaming their heads off about gun control, but nobody seems to be asking what all this grief is doing to the American psyche. It’s time this question be asked because the impact is enormous. It’s one thing to have people killed in a war, but it’s another thing to have people killed in a mass shooting. At least when you die in a war you know you’re dying for your country. That’s not the case here. People can accept death in a war, they can even accept death from disease - at least they know doctors are trying to save them - but this is worse than any disease. We can pass all the gun control laws we want, but human time bombs are still going to be out there and so is their hate.

What are these shootings doing to our faith in God? Most people believe in some kind of God. They may not go to Church every Sunday, they may not read the Bible every day, but they do believe in God. When you hear about this sort of thing happening again and again where beautiful, healthy people are being killed for no reason, what does that do to your faith in God? What does that do to your faith in your country? How can you live in a place where violent death can strike you down at any moment? All of this is having a massive impact. It may not be visible and people may not be consciously aware of it, but it’s there and it’s affecting the psyche of the American people and their faith in God and democracy. When you lose a child like that, you fall into a world of never-ending grief. Your children are your future and when they die, what’s left of that? I’ve heard people talk about the need for gun control, the need to reduce violence, and the need for political change, but the one thing they almost never talk about is God. How can you continue believing in God when this sort of thing keeps happening? I think that’s pretty hard to do when you see children getting killed like this because you know it could happen to yours at any moment. You may not think about it, you may not talk about it, you may not be aware of it, but it’s there, and the impact it has on your emotional, spiritual, and psychological psyche is severe and it’s eventually going to impact our political elections. How are people whose damaged faith in God going to vote? Our faith in God is absolutely fundamental to us and these shootings are taking a massive toll that. We need to call a nationwide conference for people to talk about violence, but we can’t blame everything on guns. Gun control is needed, yes, but that’s not the only thing that should be addressed because even if we did get rid of guns, human time-bombs are still going to be out there with their hate and they’re going to explode. How can we continue having faith in God when every day, you hear about another mass killing? Parents everywhere are having to confront grief, despair, and darkness. They’re asking why this is happening. They’re asking why their child was killed. They’re asking why nobody is doing anything to stop these shootings. Every day, more and more people are having to face these questions. So, we need to call a nationwide conference and start discussing what this does to our faith in God and what’s going to happen if we don’t do something about it and election time comes around. How are these traumatized people whose faith in God has been repeatedly assaulted going to vote? Are they going to vote for a democratic society or an authoritarian one? My fear is that authoritarian and dictatorship will come to power.

Hate doesn’t make a great nation. If people feel that violence is power, we have to show them it isn’t. Violence won’t solve our problems. Instead, we need to give people the skills they need so they don’t have to resort to violence. If we don’t try to combat this and relieve some of the grief, I truly fear what it might do to our country, especially come election time. I hope people won’t vote for an authoritarian regime that will destroy our democracy down to the root, but that might happen because we can’t keep living with a of tidal wave of grief where people wake up in the morning and go to bed wondering if they’re going to have to bury their child that day. Nobody wants to mourn in that violent pit of grief.

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