Cheering and Clapping For #6


At this very moment in America, a new child is being born. Chances are the parents are cheerfully happy about this arrival. 

And in America today, a person will die from being shot by a person with a gun. Chances are the parents never expected  to lose a loved in this manner.

No matter when or where this shooting occurs, one individual cheers and claps with sincere happiness. That individual would be the devil. The devil cheers and claps because #6 has been broken.

You know #6—from the Ten Commandments—“Thou shall not kill.” 

Yes, the devil cheers and claps when #6 is broken—every time.

But, there is something worse. Too frequently, when America experiences mass shootings like El Paso and Dayton, the person responsible for breaking #6 is cheered. Cheered by people who have the same disconnected beliefs as the shooter.

Charles de Gaulle once stated, “ We may well go to the moon, but that’s not very far. The greatest distance we have to cover still lies within us.”

That distance within us and that distance between us is troublesome.

And in truth, there is a distance between me and the Ten Commandments. I rarely think about them. And I am a so called Christian, who attends church regularly, reads scripture everyday, and prays everyday.

 And I suspect, no trigger puller for any of the mass shooting we have experienced in our country thinks about #6 either.

Why is this? 

Perhaps, the answer has something to do with distance. 

That gap, that space, that span what does it create within us and between us?

On Sunday, July 28, my wife and I drove to Clarksville, Maryland to attend A Celebration of Life for the youngest son of dear college friends. Their son who would have turned 34 on August 1 was gunned down at a boat marina in Arizona on May 24. This was an unexpected, senseless tragedy, the nightmare of nightmares.

We left Richmond early to drive up I-95. Luckily, our travel time wasn’t disrupted by heavy traffic.

Off I-95, we skirted around Columbia, Maryland, headed toward our destination. A traffic exit sign caught my attention with the traditional green background and bold white letters, it read—Broken Land Parkway.


I thought to myself, “America—we are a broken land.”

Despite all our accomplishments and all of our good, in truth, we are a broken land. Perhaps, a prideful distance keeps us from admitting this. One thing is clear,  we have been very good for a long, long, long time at ignoring #6.

I wonder what distance within us and between us has to do with our broken land?

What is in the heart of that distance in our broken land?

Is it the crumbling of the American family,  a widening economic divide, abuse of our freedoms, lack of education, overloaded mental health systems, a need for role models, systems of support that have become ineffective, a reluctance to rethink our predictable responses to societal challenges, or the diminishing influence of churches?

Perhaps, the answer is all of the above.

For sure our country has many foes who would like to see us destroyed by their force. Yes, there is a lot to worry about from our foes. But at this stage, I think we have become very efficient at destroying ourselves.

Singer songwriter, Christopher Cross’, first hit single “Ride Like The Wind”  is a song about an outlaw making a run for the Mexico border to save his life. One line of lyric sums up his walk through life :  “Always spoke my mind with a gun in my hand.”

Sadly for some in America that is their diplomacy.

And the devil cheers.

This quote from Aldous Huxley recently caught my attention: “Most human beings have an almost infinite capacity for taking things for granted.”

I fear that I have started to take America’s ailments for granted.

I can’t do this. 

Remember, the devil cheers.

My capacity for wanting to help my country should be infinite.

If the devil is cheering over #6, then God’s heart is breaking.

The capacity to stop that cheering and the heart breaking is within me and you.

My heart must work to reduce the distance within me and between us.

 Hard work—yes.  But it beats hearing the devil cheer.


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