Can We Meet Our Neighbors Without Gun Reform?
At the heart of interfaith efforts is the belief that we must treat others as we wish to be treated, we must welcome the stranger into our hearth, and we must meet our neighbors to better our communities. And yet the threat of gun violence, which each year claims more victims and erodes community trust, is now a bigger threat to our interfaith efforts than even the most basic prejudice against the Other.
Just this week, a 14-year-old child in Louisiana was shot by a neighbor for playing hide and seek on their property. This is just another recent case of gun violence perpetrated for the sole reason of being in the wrong driveway in New York, ringing the wrong doorbell in Missouri, opening the wrong car in Texas, losing a ball in the wrong backyard in North Carolina, delivering to the wrong address in Florida, or existing in an America that values the right to bear arms more than it values human lives and human rights.
How can we meet our neighbors when we are too afraid to get shot? How can we build dialogue when our neighbors are so afraid of us that they would resort to gun violence? How can we break down barriers if we are too busy mourning the victims of the monthly, weekly, daily, hourly shootings in our communities? There is little hope for fostering communities that can mobilize to build understanding, reconciliation, and action networks when our neighbors respond to basic human interaction with gun violence.
We can acknowledge that there is a crisis of humanity—a crisis of conscience—but we must also acknowledge that these crises are exasperated by the lack of legislative action on this issue. In America, now more than ever we need communities of faith and allies across social movements to come together and demand gun reforms.
The 2023 Parliament of the World’s Religions is convening on the theme of A Call to Conscience: Defending Freedom & Human Rights and features over 700 programs from people of faith sharing resources, best practices, and network-building tools to commit to foster action in our communities. Join us!