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A National Day of Repentance

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From flickr.com/photos/90412460@N00/8470407332/: Ash Wednesday
Ash Wednesday
(image by Jeff Pioquinto, SJ)
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Once again the country mourns for the victims of violence. Racism has reared its ugly head in Charleston and we pause to remember the nine beautiful lives lost. We listen to words of condolence, we marvel at the words of forgiveness from victims' families, we call for the symbol of division, the confederate flag, to be removed from the Capitol area, and we seek the death penalty for the perpetrator of this horrendous massacre. Then we go on to the next big news story.

This is the sad history of how we respond to acts of violence in this country. This most recent mass killing has the added dimension of racism, which is a part of the whole -- a big part that has never been fully dealt with- and needs a unique teaching response. It's time to educate and refute the thinking that one race, one religion, one nation is better than another.

It's also time to recognize the roots of violence that play a part in leading to such acts. To start at the top, we are given an example of how to deal with those we consider threatening to our values, our interests, our way of life. We 'take them out'; we promise to 'degrade and destroy them'; we expand our arsenals; we proclaim as brave and as heroes those who do the killing; we brag about our strength.We describe ourselves as exceptional.

In addition, our tv shows and movies emulate the excitement of engagement, with guns and other weapons as the power brokers. Video games hone the skills. Guests on tv news shows, mostly elite public political and military figures, echo the sentiments and advocate more, more, we are not being violent enough. The populace is brainwashed. The seeds have been sown throughout our history. Models of nonviolent methods to resolve differences are practically non-existent.

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. What we need is a National Day of Repentance. Repentance for our sins of the past towards African-Americans, towards Native Americans, towards other minorities, for our neglect of the poor, for our excessive consumption, for our destruction of the earth, for our violent behavior, and for our example at the present time that we are above the law and can, with impunity, use any means including torture, bombing, our full military and economic might to destroy those we consider "enemies." We have much to repent, and until we acknowledge our wrongdoing, we will not move forward with the changes that are needed.

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Sally McMillan is a mother, a grandmother, an activist and a writer. She's from Philadelphia, Iowa, and now Albuquerque. She has four children and 12 grandchildren.


She is a graduate of Chestnut Hill College, Philadelphia PA (more...)
 

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