The London Guardian, 1991 ran a story about violence in Northern Ireland.  In it ran this quote of a Belfast Resident “It’s not the bullet with my name on it that worries me.  It’s the one that says ‘To whom it may concern.’” 

 

Those words have some weight these past couple of days as I have watched the horrific details of the violent attack on students at Dawson College. It is hard to fathom how a young man like Kimveer Gill at age 25 can be so angry and so violent. He moved in on those people, whom he did not know and sent a spree of bullets ‘to whom it may concern.’ How tragic.  So many innocent lives altered in one maddening act of violence.

 

I wonder how often we have to see these awful scenes before we realize that we need to eradicate violence in stead of glorifying it. The details of this young mans life are not yet all told. What is clear is his fascination with violent games, violent acts of the past and fascination with killing is very disturbing. More disturbing to me is the fact that there is a tolerance for that kind of entertainment. It seems so wrong that anyone can play a video game that depicts the horrific events of Columbine. 

 

We need to be more conscious, as a society of the consequences of allowing violence as a pastime. Violence always results in someone being hurt. It is not the answer for us a s a people, even though there continues to be a strong willed group who insist it is the only way. Manitonquat is a native elder who shares stories of healing. He has run healing circles in prisons and has a success rate that is very high. Most of the inmates who come to his program never re-offend. His philosophy is this, “It is clear that the way to heal society of its violence… and lack of love is to replace the pyramid of domination with the circle of equality and respect. On Wednesday there was no dignity or respect for so many.

 

Or baptismal covenant calls us to be a people who strive for the peace and unity and that we be a people of respect the dignity of every human being. That is precisely what Manitonquat is asking for.  We need to all start demanding more non-violent responses in our communities, in our personal lives, in the world. We need to teach that dignity and respect for every human life is paramount. We all deserve better.

 

Let us keep in prayer all who are harmed by violence, especially today the families affected by the shootings Wednesday. We all have to become more aware of life around us. Indeed, it is not what may happen to me that is scariest, it is the harm that comes to whom it may concern.