How to respond in the face of the horror of murder? Here in Memphis , on Lester street, in the neighborhood of Binghampton, we have witnessed the unthinkable . A family was murdered and mutilated -four adults and two children. Three other children in the family are in serious condition. The reality of this horror is slowly seeping into our stunned consciousness. It is the unthinkable. The unsayable... I hesitated to even mention this here but it seemed to me that to speak of it was more healing than to not speak of it.
It seems to many here in the city that the level of violence, anger, and rage is rising . Over the past few years more and more shootings, killings, expressions of anger and rage. What is happening? Why? How to understand this? How to respond? In the spirit of compassion, courage, and hope may we reflect together on these and other important questions.
First, it is clear that as a community we are grieving. The grief is very real...very deep. At times it feels overwhelming. How to feel this grief and how to express this grief is our human task. Our media reports all kinds of things in rapid succession giving us precious little time to respond as feeling beings. But to be human is to feel, and to feel deeply. And so we grieve. We allow oursleves to experience the pain of loss and suffering. Collectively we enter the wound. And we support each other as we do so. At the same time we offer ourselves to those who are living through this horror. We especially offer our expressions of practical loving to those little children who remain alive and in serious condition in hospital. Memphis is responding in many ways to help medically, financially, and in the emotional and physical healing of the people directly involved.
One question: Can it be said that Memphis is a place of relatively high anger, rage and violence? Many would say yes to that question. Many point to the assassination of Martin Luther King in 1968 in Memphis and the ongoing culture of poverty here in Memphis as key elements in a peculiar legacy of violence that shapes the general climate of the city and seeps into our everyday interactions. At the same time one police report indicates that the violent crime rate in Memphis has declined by 18% over the past year. Perhaps both are true.
One thing is clear: we must do all in our power to learn non-violent ways of being. We must pray and work toward being more and more non-violent in our many relationships. And when we are confronted with violence we must learn creative and courageous ways to respond.
As an example one report says that every time a neighborhood holds a block party the level of violence in that neighborhood goes down. Something to ponder...
May it be so.
In Memphis...In Grief...In Hope...