We are living in a nightmare. It is not the more than 1M deaths from Covid; it is not the catastrophic implosion of the environment that supports human life; it is not whiteness as an excuse for violence; it is not brutal gender hierarchies. It is a nightmare brought on by the absence of values.
The fact that we repeatedly wake up to or go to sleep with the news of innocent life being wantonly extinguished by the overwhelming presence of guns in our country, speaks to a society that is completely unmoored. Yet, easy access to guns is the symptom; it is not the sickness. The sickness is an unbridled devotion to individual rights and the “I’ve got mine” mentality on which modern greed and selfishness thrive.
Guns must be gotten rid of. Period. And guns will not be gotten rid of until they are no longer seen as extensions of an individual’s supposedly “God given” right to self-defense. Therein lies the problem: obsessing over defense, rather than defending the right for all to thrive. Scarcity, fear of the other and competition (foundational hallmarks of the colonial project that founded the United States) do not add up to equity, they create systems of enslavement, genocide, sexual objectification, lack of access and senseless violence.
Many of you will be called to action in this moment. Many of you are called to action on a regular basis. I would ask that before you answer that call, you return first to your values and ask, how will my actions help all of us thrive? How will my actions cultivate equity in the world? How will my actions serve more than making me feel useful, but instead connect me to my fellow beings?
In this moment, I invite you to recommit to your values; to recommit to our values. This week in particular, as you gather for meetings about finance, or policy, or education, or organizing…seemingly unrelated to the recent tragedies, I want to encourage you to begin with remembering why you are part of First Parish in Cambridge. A chalice lighting, a moment of silence, a time of reflection. Hold tightly to these values. It is values that bind us together not tasks. The way we are with each other has much more lasting power than any individual actions we might accomplish.
We are not so much being asked to navigate the wake of another horror. We are waking up to the realization that we are swimming in a whole ocean of horror, teeming with self-interest and one sided arguments. We must rely on the stable, strong and agile vessel of our values to make it to the other side.
May all those, past, present and future who continue to suffer as the targets of our government sanctioned gun violence, be blessed by community and unwavering faith and may they know the love and constant support of this beloved community.
Rev. Adam Lawrence Dyer
Please join us on the steps of First Parish in Cambridge tonight, May 25 at 6:30 pm for a Vigil for Values.
We’ll gather on the front steps of First Parish beginning at 6:30 pm. We will have some electric candles available but please consider bringing your own candle. We’ll have time for readings, reflection, song and silence. We’ll also be ringing the First Parish bell.