Sunday, March 25, 2018

Thoughts on Parkland on Palm Sunday

Love is stronger than death.  Tragedy will not have the last word in human history.  That, for Christians, sums up the meaning of Holy Week.

With Palm Sunday at hand, young people made a triumphal entry into Jerusalem (a.k.a. Washington, D.C.) this weekend, the seat of a corrupt, monied and brutal state, calling for an end to violence and bearing a message of idealism and hope.  The crowds (a.k.a.the national media) adored them, throwing palms and welcoming them with shouts of Hosanna.  

Meanwhile, Herod and Pilate knew who controlled the legions, and knew how easily the multitudes of voters could be distracted by other spectacles.  “What is truth?” asked jesting PIlate.  To him, it was all fake news.  

The chronology is not quite right.  That old story ended in crucifixion, in one man’s blameless blood being spilled.  This revised version began with the slaughter of innocents as seventeen students in Florida were gunned down by the fusillade of an AR-15.  The narratives agree in this much, however: for no good reason, there was a massacre, and the authorities treated it as business as usual.  

Jesus was executed as an enemy of the state: a threat to existing structures of power and privilege.  Crucifixion, in the Roman Empire, was a sentence reserved solely for the crime of sedition or inciting insurrection against the hegemony.  

The students who led rallies across America yesterday to ban assault-style weapons are likewise receiving death threats.  How many more will have to die before their demands for non-violent change are made effective?  With school shootings almost weekly, no one knows.  The answer is probably too many.  

We can take heart, though, in knowing that resistance is not futile.  The good news  of Easter is that goodness has power.  Decency and kindness may suffer temporary setbacks, may even seem to perish entirely, but will resurrect in the peoples’ struggles for justice and dreams of peace.  In the words of eighteen year old Parkland survivor Emma Gonzalez, “"if all our government and President can do is send thoughts and prayers, then it's time for victims to be the change that we need to see.”  

Didn’t same prophets who said the promised one would come riding on a colt also proclaim that the children would lead the way?