The terrible shooting of Republican Congressperson Steve Scalise (LA) and others is a shocking but not totally unexpected development. We join with other concerned citizens and persons in expressing our outrage at this event and hope all those injured will recover as quickly as possible.
Several news and editorial sources have commented on the “typical ritual” that is emerging in the wake of America’s problems concerning mass shootings. We express outrage, join in solidarity, pledge to come together, and demand action so these events can, at least, be minimalized. But the problem is systemic in American culture and the solutions are as elusive as ever.
We, at The Interfaith Peace Project, have been warning for a long time now about the violent language that has become more than a part of the way we speak. It is important for us to realize that how we speak about an issue is as important as the issue itself. Furthermore, we must realize that behind every issue there are real persons. Majority Whip Scalise is a human being long before he is an American or a Republican or any other label someone might use.
Political and Governmental leaders must speak about issues in such a way as to respect the humanity of all involved. As a people, we must not accept any rhetoric or language that would undermine or dehumanize any person. Labeling those who disagree as “enemies” and encouraging a culture of bullying in the public arena threatens the well-being of all people.
The Interfaith Peace Project encourages all Interfaith Leaders and Communities to inquire about the implications of what it means to be spiritually motivated people. We encourage dialogue based on a desire for truth that will motivate dissenting persons to seek to engage one another in respectful, honest and courageous ways. We urge all people of good will to examine their own language and rhetoric insuring that our public speech be respectful of others. We must reexamine our prayers and rituals insuring that people of other faiths and no faiths be referred to in loving and uplifting ways.
We continue to be concerned about the rhetoric and policies of intolerance that have infected our society in more recent times. The way we speak and think about others is in itself a matter of justice.
We are grateful the Congress of the United States has decided to hold its annual baseball game even in the wake of the tragic events of the last few days. Such events challenge the idea that dissenting persons must be enemies and cannot be friends. As we have long understood, diverse people who come together in play, festival and common cause often discover their humanity and the invitation to be humane. May the injured heal and the dead rest in peace as we pledge anew to be a people of peace based on justice.
Thomas P. Bonacci, C.P.
With The Board of Directors