Sometimes the world feels so heavy. Like an unbearable weight that bends the backs of everyone that lives in it. Sometimes the weight of the world feels incomprehensible - we think 'ah, yesterday it was so light. I could breathe and walk and smile. And today is bent backs and agony and sadness.'
Of course you know what I'm referring to. I'm referring to the mass shooting on May 24 at an elementary school in Uvalde, Texas. But also, the mass shooting on May 17 in Buffalo, New York. And the mass shooting in Pittsburgh on April 17, and the shooting in New York City on April 12, and the shooting in Cedar Rapids on April 10. All told, as of May 22nd this year, there have been 213 mass shootings this year alone. There have been 17,196 deaths by gun violence. 647 of the dead are children.
I want to make political suggestions - about activism and voting and calling your representative - but I can't. Because I've already done that in message after message, sermon after sermon, year after year. I want to offer solace and prayer, but I don't know that I can. I've wept and agonized after Aurora, Colorado and Buffalo and Tree of Life and Sandy Hook and South Carolina and Orlando and El Paso and offered prayers of hope and healing and grief.
To God at this point, I offer my total and complete exasperation. My rage. My anguish at children who will never grow up and teachers who will never go home and grandmas who will not squeeze their grandbabies. In turn, I imagine God returns this exasperation back at us, saying 'despair is not an option.' 'Hopelessness is not an option.' Olam Hesed Yibaneh, we are taught - a world of justice we must build. So as much as we've had enough of mass shootings and high powered guns, we also need to be enough to be some part of reversing this horrible trajectory that we are on.
L'Shalom (In Peace),
Rabbi Mark Asher Goodman