The following statement was shared with the First Parish in Cambridge community in response to the latest gun related violence:

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.  

Not Just a Can of Paint

I will keep this short…

There is a global pandemic…Covid-19
…also anti-black racism
…also violence against women
…also fear and isolation of disabilities.

…and more.

The United States faces its own unique epidemic…gun entitlement
…also militarized (hyper-masculinized) concepts of policing
…also health and wellness that is the national equivalent of cotton in the early 1800s.
…also an economy that relies on poverty
…and a distrust of knowledge and information.

…and more.

Together, these make for a powerfully toxic stew.  We cannot fix one, without fixing the others.  We cannot have a response for one, without a response for the others.  More police will not fix the spike in gun violence.  Fewer guns will not de-militarize policing.  Ending violence against women will not un-enslave millions from health care that wants to keep them sick and without access.  Fixing healthcare alone will not end the assault that men and the government wage physically and culturally on women’s bodies.  We have to be willing to look holistically at strategies to untangle the whole knot.

…the solutions to social discord and sickness and violence and fear is not as simple as a can of paint or choosing not to wear a mask out of self determination.

Watching a woman attempt to paint over the Black Lives Matter mural in Martinez, CA (a city I know well from my time in the Bay Area) it became crystal clear to me that we have become a culture of people who believe that we can act as solo agents with a can of paint and erase things we don’t like or don’t understand. We are both lazy while being resentful of being told what to do.  This is also why wearing a mask to prevent the spread of covid-19 is political. This is the real challenge we face in this time; the solutions to social discord and sickness and violence and fear is not as simple as a can of paint or choosing not to wear a mask out of self determination.  What is required is more intimate, more interconnected and much more time and energy consuming. What is more, the solutions cannot come from a place of rage.  The solutions we seek, have to come from a sense of shared humanity that honors difference and different perspectives, because we collectively and individually value the way our own difference is mutually respected by others.

Human beings have incredible capacity, to learn, to understand, to grow, to evolve.  It is time for us to reclaim these capabilities before we forget that we have them altogether.


…a can of paint. (Martinez, CA)


Please also read this important information from Everytown for Gun Safety about the connection between gun sales, gun violence, our response to covid-19 and public health: Gun Violence and COVID-19