Thoughts on violence

Yesterday was a sad day here in Seattle. A little scary too, after a gunman shot five people in a cafe down the street in my neighborhood. The high school behind my office was on lockdown. My officemates and I also heeded the advice of police to stay indoors since the suspect had fled the scene and had not yet been found.  Half an hour later there was another shooting downtown, where a woman was killed and a car stolen. Towards the end of the day the police found the man responsible for both shootings. He killed himself. I just read that five of the six people he shot have died. So sad.

This is on top of a recent rash of gun violence in this normally peaceful city. Last weekend a few hours after I left a music festival at Seattle Center, someone was shot. Last week, a dad was shot by accident by a stray bullet from a street altercation.

Not surprising then that many are asking what is going on. Why all the violence? I don't have answers, but it seems to me that violence is all around us, and violence breeds more violence. The violence of systemic poverty. The violence of economic systems where forced labor is allowed and supported by rampant consumerism. Violence to Earth. Violence in relationships, bullying, domestic violence. Not to mention our nation's military industrial complex that fuels our wars overseas, exporting our violence all the while making a profit. I could go on and on.

Violence has seeped so much into our collective psyche, that we only notice it when it spills into the ordinary of our lives. It is good to ask the question, what is happening? But we need to broaden the question beyond isolated incidents and look at the acceptance and promotion of violence on a daily basis.

So I pray. For all victims of violence, that they may find peace. I pray for all perpetrators of violence, that they may be converted to follow the path of love. I pray that all of us may have our hearts so broken that we embrace our interconnectedness and grow into nonviolence that supports all life. Amen.


Sueb said...

Hi Susan,
I work at the Archdiocese of Seattle with my office just feet away from O'Dea High School. The second shooting happened just down the street. Needless to say we were careful about going out. I am so sad about the state of our beautiful city and wonder at the cause of such a sudden outbreak of violence. Something to remember when we pray our Chaplet of Divine Mercy and Rosaries. God have mercy on us!

Unknown said...

I pray and ponder with you. Non- violence is the way.

Susan Rose Francois, CSJP said...

Just found out that the man who is in critical condition after the shooting is the son of one of our parishioners. Prayers for healing and a swift recovery coming his way.