Advertisement
Click here for General Assembly coverage

Reckoning with violence and silence

Every Advent, I wonder: What is it like to truly live in peace? — Dartinia Hull

Photo by Ankhesenamun on Unsplash

On Friday night, the Outlook’s social media producer texted several of us to ask if we’d heard about a mass shooting in Las Vegas, Nevada, on the UNLV campus. 

Out of the four people on the thread, only one had heard. 

“And there was a shooting spree in Texas,” I texted back. “Six dead.”

“There have been 630+ mass shootings in the U.S. this year,” our producer texted. 

Our text thread fell quiet.

There could be a number of reasons why nobody had heard about these latest mass shootings and mass murders. Many of us have had it up to here with the news, so we turn off alerts, don’t watch the evening reports or listen to live radio that might announce it. It’s heavy, the news, a gut punch by the second, even for news junkies. Some of us are wading through so much of the news that it becomes a blur. We all are busy, heads down with myriad projects in the works. Maybe it wasn’t headlined, given the bloodshed in Gaza and Israel, Sudan, and Ukraine. Or maybe we’re so focused on world events that our national problems don’t even register.

Every Advent, I wonder: What is it like to truly live in peace? 

In May, I started writing about the juxtaposition of seemingly disparate events, and how they wind around each other to form some kind of meaning. I was writing about the anniversary of the murders in Uvalde, Texas, the growing book bans and the irony of putting out an Outlook magazine issue about gun control on the same day that former National Youth Poet Laureate Amanda Gorman sent this out on X: “One parent could get my poetry banned from classrooms. And yet one country can’t ban assault rifles from massacring them.”

But I can’t find that piece of writing now. It’s buried, tucked away in some obscure computer folder, all the documents and folders I’ve opened since then piling on and pushing it out of sight. Feels like the same thing is happening with our continued lifestyle of violence. Everything piles on; we are buried, inundated. Nobody pays attention until something brings it back to the top again.

It’s sadly ironic, this extreme, preventable violence in a season that’s about peace — and even the baby Jesus wasn’t born into peaceful circumstances. His family quickly became refugees because Herod’s murder spree soon was in full effect.

Times really haven’t changed, have they? We talk about peace, but in reality, we’re our own collective, self-genocidal, self-hating Herod. We might not be the ones wielding the weapons, but when we allow weapons to have more value than our children, we’ve crossed into a space that’s hard to come back from. We’re not even loading up our donkeys and hot-footin’ it out of Dodge. We’re opening the front door and saying “Have at ‘em.”

We might not be the ones wielding the weapons, but when we allow weapons to have more value than our children, we’ve crossed into a space that’s hard to come back from.

Violence is so much a part of our lives that each horrid event gets pushed down farther with every other passing event. And so it goes.

Do you wonder what it’s like to truly live in peace? I do. 

Every Advent, I wonder: What is it like to truly live in peace? 


The Presbyterian Outlook is committed to fostering faithful conversations by publishing a diversity of voices. The opinions expressed are the author’s and may or may not reflect the opinions and beliefs of the Outlook’s editorial staff or the Presbyterian Outlook Foundation. Want to join the conversation? You can write to us or submit your own article here

LATEST STORIES

Advertisement