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I have been wrestling with my thoughts and emotions arising from the senseless mass shootings that take place in this country on a daily basis now. Innocent people have died at a supermarket in Buffalo, at a church in Orange County, and now, yesterday, at an elementary school in Uvalde, Texas. Families have been left to deal with heartbreak and unnecessary pain for years to come.
Every death by gun violence is a tragedy. But I find no words adequate to express my pain and outrage arising from the incomprehensible act that took place against 19 young children and a teacher at an elementary school. Unfortunately, the division in our society that causes these tragedies is all too prevalent.
Violence rooted in hate and racism is far too common today. But acts of mass violence such as these must not just leave us numb or without action. These incidents can wear away at our ability to respond emotionally and spiritually. We must unite in an effort to advocate against the acts of violence we’ve seen in the last 10 days. Violence cannot be the answer. Throughout history, the fact that hate only breeds more hate is a lesson that we’ve had to continually relearn.
More than 40,000 Americans die from gun violence each year. The American Medical Association has labeled gun violence as a public health crisis since 2016. This is not a peripheral issue. This type of violence must be stopped. It’s about protecting our community’s health.
I know that many of you choose to serve at Loma Linda University Health because of our mission — to extend the teaching and healing ministry of Jesus Christ. His life and teachings clearly show our response to hate must be overwhelming love. As individuals and as an organization, it’s vitally important that our response to this hate, grief, and suffering must be one of compassion and hope.
The time to advocate for solutions is now. Discussing these issues is difficult. But we must lead in moving society forward. The necessary dialogue must arise out of reason and value for all members of society. We must join with the rest of society to create a world where grocery shoppers, churchgoers, and school children can enjoy their daily lives without fear of being gunned down and targeted by hate.
We can no longer say or do nothing.
May your unfailing love be with us, Lord, even as we put our hope in you. – Psalm 33:22
Richard Hart, MD, DrPH
Loma Linda University Health