|To the University Community,|
Memorial Day is here.
Today, in addition to remembering those service members who gave their all for their country — our ancestors, relatives, and friends —we also need to reflect upon those whose sacrifice has come more recently: the victims of American gun violence.
In recent weeks we have added to that count the children and teachers of Robb Elementary School in Uvalde, Texas; the grocery shoppers of Buffalo, New York, and the congregants of the Irvine Taiwanese Presbyterian Church in Laguna Woods, California. They are only the latest in a roll call all too familiar, one to which we have become grotesquely accustomed. While forever eulogized as victims, these Americans — were unwilling combatants in our ongoing national war … a war fought without an obvious front … a war fought against the unwitting and the untrained … a war devoid of moral purpose … a war where the enemy is hidden among us.
Our nation arrives again at an inflection point. We raise our collective voices in frustration, anger, and sorrow, but the will of the majority seems never enough. The weight of the carnage, loss, trauma, and pain associated with each massacre (that we have learned to euphemize as “mass shootings”) weighs us down into an exhausted resignation that nothing will change.
But, I say that we cannot allow ourselves to fatigue. When we choose not to engage our fellow citizens in meaningful discussion about their attitudes, when we choose not to engage with public protest or civil disobedience, when we choose to shake our heads at the news before moving on to the work of our day, we do not give in to fatigue. We give in.
This Memorial Day, I challenge every member of our University community to do more than reflect. I urge you to stand up for the innocent. Urge our lawmakers to pass meaningful legislation to protect our children, teachers, and communities. Stand up against rhetoric that finds the nuance in the atrocities before us. Feel each death as a loss within your own family — a hopeful future snuffed out because of easy access to tools of war and the untreated depravity of mind and spirit.
Each year, too many – particularly our children – are lost to unrelenting, unexpected gunfire, and “the twilight’s last gleaming” is no more and for no good reason. But here we are among the living, the caring, and the brave. It requires us to be active defenders of our community, our country, and each other.