As a Brit living and serving as a pastor here in the USA I am bewildered.

This is a great nation of enterprise and creativity, with a strong sense of community and belonging I have grown to love, but at the same time there is an atmosphere of violence and fear.

We see all of this angry side in the vehemence to the point of stalemate and vitriol in the nation’s politicians, regardless of party hue or ideological dogma. We have seen it recently on the streets of our city, and we see it most vividly in yet another brutal, senseless massacre of the innocent in Las Vegas.

Most of us awoke on Monday morning to listen to the news report only to cry out, “Oh God, not again.” When are we going to be able to stop saying “Not again”?

This undertow of hostility coupled with the love of the gun in American life is a great puzzle and worry for me. When are we going to stop seeing president after president having to speak to the nation in response to another act of horror and mayhem by one citizen upon the innocent? We have seen children in schools, revelers at a night club, parishioners at a bible study prayer group and now concert goers to name just a few recent incidents — all of them soft targets, preyed upon by angry people.

We are saddened by this atrocity, saddened for those whose lives were lost and those wounded and hurt and mourning. Saddened that someone could be moved to kill in this way. We are also saddened that our great nation has come to this, when one man can amass such an arsenal and set up a concert as a killing field. We are saddened that this man had pre-mediated this attack and had the ability to carry around with impunity such an arsenal. That saddens and frightens us.

We are tired, tired of headlines that speak of the violence and death visited upon some of our own by one of our own. We are tired that no progress seems to being made on this issue. Have we become so tired and numbed by these atrocities that we no longer care to heal our society?

We are angry at those in power at all levels and on all sides of the political and social spectrum who are unwilling to grasp this hottest of issues facing all of us, and who hide behind slogans, vested interests, political dogma and disputed interpretations of the constitution.

America is its people, not just its Constitution, and it is certainly not its vested financial interests.

This is a pro-life issue, for it is clearly a matter of life and death. Pro-life is an attitude and belief that all of life has value, not just its wondrous start. We need an openness to debate not just the matter of sensible and proportional gun control, but also how do we tackle this tendency to violence in our society.

The opening words of the Constitution clearly state the desire to “ensure domestic Tranquility …” We are sad, tired and angry and far from domestic tranquility. How can we attain “life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness” under these conditions?

Things must change, politics must change, we must change — for to change is to grow up.

Fr. Aidan-Peter Rossiter lives in Santa Maria.

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