Guest column by Rev. Paul Rodkey
I have been interested in the conversations in our nation since the massacre of the children in Newton, Conn.
It is clear that the event has pushed some beyond the standard language of the past.
I believe that violence starts with fear. I believe that we need to be honest about our national/cultural story. We are a fearful people and because of that we do violent things to persons. Evil is not simply a ‘being.’ It is more pervasive. It is in all of us. And like Christ, we have to decide how we will deal with it.
I heard a local pastor of Newton on the radio talking about how ‘evil had invaded our town.’ I understand his struggle, yet evil has not invaded his town. Evil is always in town because it is in all of us. The real question is how do we control evil in our lives? We choose to, or not choose to.
We choose to block evil when we choose to become engaged in communities of compassion. We block evil when we choose to create a relationship with kids who choose to be isolated and retreating into a cave of fear. We choose to block evil when we state how the ways of violence only lead to more violence. We choose to block evil when we decide to be in relationship with God’s people. We choose to block evil when we refuse to participate in the paranoia of stories of our day.
“Those who live by the sword will die by the sword.” Jesus was right.
Violence brings violence. The argument that we need to make all people violent in order to stop the violence is laughable.
Jesus showed us that the way to stop violence is by letting go, by being humble, by living a life of integrity, by celebrating the many blessings we have. That is how we defeat evil within each one of us.
Let us pray for the Newton community. And let us pray for those individuals who live in fear / anger / violence every day — even in our own community. Jesus said that the truth will set us free. I believe that means free from the violence and fear of our world. May God bless the children, the parents, the families and friends of those lost in yet another act of fear and violence.
Rev. Paul Rodkey is the pastor of Bethany Presbyterian Church.