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Recently Lauren Hogg spoke at the University of Arkansas. Lauren is a survivor of the Parkland school shooting. She and other survivors have become activists for preventing gun violence. She described the day of the shooting in grisly and vulnerable detail. She also described the passionate need for action she and her brother David had to take as a way of coping with the trauma. Their group created the "March for Our Lives" movement. She left us with actions everyone can take, and I left with a renewed hope in young people who have the will and the smarts to create a better future.

Yet this past week two more mass shootings occurred in the U.S, which has only 4% of the world population but over one-third of the world's mass shootings. And the rate of mass shootings is increasing dramatically. Domestic terrorism far outweighs international terrorism, and white supremacist violence is not being addressed.

I learned in Sunday School, "Thou Shalt Not Kill." The U.S. is supposed to be a very religious country. But religion is not working. "Thoughts and prayers" are not helping. What happened to "Love your neighbor as yourself"?

Until 2016, all measures of human violence were decreasing steadily, according to Harvard professor Steven Pinker. There is significant evidence that the change in the political environment has increased violence in the U.S. Where are Christian values of love and kindness these days? Is white supremacy and the NRA the new religion? God, I hope not.

If I could wave a magic wand, all the guns would disappear. John Lennon sang:

"Imagine there's no countries

"It isn't hard to do

"Nothing to kill or die for

"And no religion, too

"Imagine all the people

"Living life in peace"

The song "Imagine" asks us to visualize a world without greed, hunger, or violence -- a world of oneness and brotherhood (and sisterhood) for all.

This is personal for me. When my son Richard was 6 years old, he got into my ex-husband's gun cabinet and started playing with one of the guns. He shot himself in the hand and spent many hours in surgery as they reattached the nerves. Richard is 43 years old now and will never have normal use of his left hand. But at least it was only his hand. He could have killed himself, or his brother. Rather than imagine that, I choose to imagine a world where there is no violence, where children are safe, and where they can reach their full potential without having to overcome trauma.

Leaders from different faith traditions created a campaign to "reclaim Jesus" from those who are using Christianity for political gain. They say that the soul of the nation and the integrity of faith are at stake and that government should serve the common good by protecting justice and peace. Imagine that the whole world lived by common faith values of love, compassion, peace and forgiveness. Imagine a world without violence. "You may say I'm a dreamer, but I'm not the only one."

Judi Neal, Ph.D. is an author and researcher on workplace spirituality and global consciousness. Email her at

NAN Religion on 08/10/2019

Print Headline: Young people imagine peace in face of chaos


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Archived Comments

  • RBolt
    August 12, 2019 at 7:41 a.m.

    Presumably, the pro-shootings crowd will extol their ability to kill many people efficiently and quickly as undeniably more important than protecting the rest off us from them.