REI Condemns Gun Violence, Especially the Slaying of Children and Educators

June 1, 2022 —

With so many others, our hearts break for the families and community of Robb Elementary School in Uvalde, Texas. With so many others, we mourn, we ask why, we seek answers—again. 

We have had little time to grieve the murders in Buffalo and the massacre before Buffalo and the massacre before that. And we pray they will always seem real to us, that they will always horrify us, that they will always frighten us, so we might interrupt this sickness of racism, hate and violence in our nation.

We echo the many statements acknowledging that the acts of this young murderer, like many others, were not the actions of a lone wolf but the result of a power arrangement, hundreds of years old that values wealth and individual freedom over the common good. The resulting systems failed our children in Uvalde, and the victims in Buffalo. We failed, as we have not sustained the efforts to change them. We failed. Every mother, father, grandparent, politician, social worker, doctor, lawyer, trainer and brick layer, failed. We must end our complicity in an arrangement that has stripped us of our connectedness to ourselves and to each other.

Details of these massacres may change; but the root remains. How might it possibly end? “Never again” t-shirts and bumper stickers have faded: the slogan has lost its power. Our emotions spike with pain yet the feeling becomes part of a too familiar pattern. And a familiar pattern follows. We collectively play a game of blame, there is justifiable moral outrage from which comes predictable backlash, and we dig our trenches deeper. We then move ever further from one another. We scream, “ban guns!”, “mandatory waiting periods!”, “a better mental health system!”, “arm teachers!”, for if we can point to someone or something else, it relieves us of our horror, outrage, grief, helplessness—of our own culpability.

What might happen if we each took responsibility for the failures of our systems– systems that disproportionally advantage some and fail others, be they mental health, political, public health, banking or law enforcement. What might happen if we faced a history of structural racism, a culture of individual rights superseding the good of the commonweal? What might happen if we called the blame game’s bluff and refused to pour gas on the overused, unproductive political arguments that exacerbate our divisions? It is time to destroy the proverbial “boxes” as they will keep us reliving the same horrors, traumas, and too soon forgotten resolutions —until it happens all over again.

It is time to reclaim the power of community to reimagine the world we all want to live in. May it be one in which when we say “never again” we mean it.