Like many of you, I wake up each morning and check the news to see what’s transpired overnight. Day after day, week after week, the Chicago Tribune reports on drive-by shootings, shooting sprees, cop killings, slayings and the like. Weekend nights are especially bad. Headlines like “3 killed, 17 wounded in overnight shootings” are typical. Last weekend a six-year-old girl was shot on her porch, in front of her mother and younger sibling, a victim of suspected gang violence.
Shootings aren’t unique to Chicago, I know. The killing of Trayvon Martin has taken center stage in our national discourse, alongside the killing of 17 Afghans (including 11 children), allegedly by an American soldier.
And it’s not just shootings. Hit-and-runs seem to be on the rise, leaving innocent bystanders maimed or killer. Yesterday’s news included a story of a man who intentionally used his car as a battering ram to injure others in another car. You have similar stories in your home town, too, I’m sure.
As participants in Women of the ELCA we have committed ourselves to “promote healing and wholeness in the church, the society and the world.” How do I–how do you–weigh that commitment against the reality of senseless deaths happening day in, day out? Have we become so desensitized to these killings that we are no longer shocked by them? No longer moved to respond in some way?
One way for us to promote healing and wholeness in this context is to observe Rachel’s Day, a day to mourn the loss of our children and to renounce the forces of evil and fear that plague our nation. The day takes its name from Jeremiah 31:15–17. In those verses Rachel grieves for her children. Since 1996, congregational units of Women of the ELCA have been called to encourage their congregations to observe Rachel’s Day on the first Sunday in May.
Rachel’s Day is needed now, more than ever. How about it? Can we get every congregational unit to do something on Rachel’s Day that will raise our collective conscience about the plague that is evil? It’s a start.
Linda Post Bushkofsky is executive director of Women of the ELCA.