Like so many in the US my heart is heavy with the recent shooting in Arizona. I watched Keith Olbermann’s commentary this morning. I read Diana Butler-Bass’ post last night. I was that person living under a rock (ok, sleeping under my blanket) all day yesterday—and woke up to this horrific news. This morning I longed to be amongst my Episcopal brothers and sisters in prayer and vigil. I’ve been processing why this feels so troubling to me, and I think I might know.
Many are asking who is this guy Jared Loughner? According to my faith, I am to love this man, pray for him, my neighbor. But what happens when Jared actually IS my neighbor?
When things like this shooting happen, it is not uncommon to hear even those who claim no faith at all say prayers for the victims. Our hearts and minds turn towards this injustice and cause us to reflect on our own safety, our own mortality. And then there are those of us who claim and try to live the teachings of Jesus, who know we are commanded to love Jared.
My neighbor is like Jared. He has opinions about authority, our government, and has quite a lot to say about religion. He is specific in his loathing and violent intentions against actual groups of people, some of whom I know. This is not just a CNN wanna-be story I am making up in my head, it is real.
But I am inquiring quite seriously friends, what are each of us doing about Jared? Do you report his activity? (Yes, I have.) Does anyone listen? (Yes, and they told me “I saw a person with very different political/govt views but didn’t hear a threat there.”) I really want to know, how can I love my neighbor? Because the truth is, he scares me. He scares both my partner and I. And its not just my neighbor, its that shifty guy outside the train platform—walking around like he’s got no place to go. Its weirdos, it’s the packs of kids who hoot hateful words at my partner and I, republicans and even corporate robots—they all frighten me. I have lurking ‘isms and I know it is my call to lay them down, and I am admitting, it’s hard.
For safety, sweetie has asked me not to post who our neighbor is. But if you think I am judging, or I am crazy, or are just plain curious—please email me. I will send you the information. You can see for yourself, help me think this thing through, and join me in reflecting on how I can take the commandment to love my neighbor seriously.
I can’t wrap up this post with a pretty point like I’ve got some Gospel answer. I don’t. I am just putting this out there, because seriously, in a very real way, I am flummoxed.