Uvalde

Today’s horrific shooting at Robb Elementary School in Uvalde is a tragedy beyond words.

First, for the murdered, I pray that they’re in the Kingdom now in a place without pain or sadness. For the families and loved ones of the ones we lost, I hope and pray that they can process this surrounded by a community of love and that they are shown ongoing support. I keep the murderer’s family in my prayers as well. And lastly, the entire Uvalde community—it’s going to be a very long road for the entire community and I pray that they’re able to stay united and work through this as a community.

I wrote about the murder of 20 kids at Sandy Hook seven years ago for the third anniversary of that unspeakable event. To be honest, I can’t read that post today. Ten years after Sandy Hook, we have another case of nearly 20 kids murdered in their classroom with an AR-15-style weapon. We have had hundreds of mass shootings already this year.

While Governor Abbott is embarrassed when Texas doesn’t sell the most guns and pushes through constitutional carry (as a political ploy to counter the anti-mask further-right pushback), gun violence is out of control.

The Second Amendment begins with “a well-regulated militia.” As a member of the regular militia of the United States, I want our political leaders to fulfill the Second Amendment and provide regulation.

This has to stop. This is a pro-life issue. It’s a matter of justice. The vast majority of Americans want universal background checks, red flag laws, and so forth. These are areas that we have common ground on that should happen immediately. I don’t know if these things would have made any difference here, but we need to move forward.

My heart is empty tonight. Those poor kids—those gone and those whose rest of their lives will be forever scarred by today.

History Repeats

I’m sadden by the developments in Ukraine. History does repeat itself. My ancestors were Black Sea Germans—Germans who migrated to modern-day Ukraine at the invitation of Catherine the Great and Alexander I. My ancestors were promised peace, ability to worship and speak German freely, and exempt from military service.

It began to change in the beginning of the 20th century and then after the Bolshevik Revolution, it totally changed. Man-made famine and closure of schools and churches led to marches to forced-labor camps and death in Siberia. My family had migrated to the United States in 1909 so was spared the worst of it.

Ukraine is, again, a place caught by the changing whims of Russia.

One Year Later

One year ago today, I was watching a livestream of the U.S. Presidential Election Certification while at work. I didn’t pay attention leading up to January 6, 2021 to know about President Trump’s rally that morning and, since I was watching only what was happening in the chamber, I was overall ignorant of what was happening outside the Capitol.

The livestream I was watching had a comment that maybe they should start watching the other feeds coming from outside because it looked like it was becoming very charged, but I didn’t think much of it until the session was disrupted to allow the Congressmen to evacuate.

I am sadden that we can’t agree as a country to the events of that day. People intentionally came to the Capitol that day to disrupt the legal and constitutional proceedings to enact the election carried out the previous November. This was not a simple protest. This was not people exercising their rights.

This was domestic terrorism, insurrection, treason—whatever word you want to use—with the aim of violently promoting the lie that the election was fraudulent. It’s been a year and multiple states have tried to scrape the bottom to find proof of this lie. There is none. Instead, states across the country are trying to make electing our leaders harder in an attempt to not win elections by being the person the most citizens want, but winning through making it harder for people who likely wouldn’t want to vote for you to vote.

The American experiment is still that, an experiment. We’ve been lucky and blessed that it has been able to withstand what it has, but we’re still at a critical moment.

I pray that, as a country, we find ways to accept reality together and ensure that our democracy is protected from those within who seek their own gains.

Statement on SB 8

The 87th Legislature passed Senate Bill 8, the so-called “Texas Heartbeat Act”. I find myself in a torn state regarding this bill.

First, I sincerely believe in the sacredness of the whole human life—the “whole life movement” is a fair bucket that I fit into. On that front, reducing abortion is a good thing.

Second, that being said and in accordance with looking holistically at the whole life, Texas still supports capital punishment, will not expand Medicaid access, does not support working parents through family-leave, maternity/paternity policies, and is actively pushing COVID policies that are opposed to the common good. (Though, to be fair, they did expand Medicaid to new months from 60-days postpartum to a full six months in this session). SB 8 places restrictions on abortions without address any of the societal structures that promote abortion. The CDC has incomplete-yet-best-we-have data on abortions that detail the self-reported reasons women have sought an abortion. By restricting access to abortion without addressing the structure that puts women into difficult situations, we are increasing back-alley abortions.

Without breaching confidentiality, from my campus ministry days, I realize the fear, pressure, and panic that can occur with an unexpected pregnancy.

While I believe the world would be better without abortions, I want a world where children are celebrated, women are supported, men are responsible, those that need financial or material help get it—that’s a world where abortion makes a lot less sense. I reject the hypocrisy of those who fly a pro-life banner, yet reject attempts to create stronger societal structures to support humanity.

Lastly, I object to the enforcement mechanism in the bill. It is a novel idea—trying to provide enough cover to avoid the Supreme Court—where the State has no enforcement power. There’s no crime or criminal process. Only a civil process and the State or officers of the State are prohibited from executing it. This allows anyone to sue anyone as the way to enforce this. I think this is a dangerous can of worms.

If anything I’ve seen in the last couple of years is I do not trust nor want the general population of people to attempt to enforce things themselves. Between neighbors fighting neighbors over HOA rules to a few men chasing down a Black man and killing him because they thought he was up to no good, I do not foresee anything healthy, productive, or good to society coming about through this mechanism.

I hope efforts like “Pro-Life Whistleblowers” stop. I figure they have a lot of poor data after efforts like the TikTok creator who created an iOS shortcut to fill in random information.

I realize this position makes me too conservative for most of my non-church friends and makes me too liberal for a lot of my church friends. I share this primarily to present a different perspective than the general conservative or general liberal views that I’ve been seeing thus far.

Juneteenth

As a white person, I’m so glad that Juneteenth is now a federal holiday. I want to address one of the only 14 members of the House (all GOP) who opposed it.

This is not at all replacing the Fourth of July. Not in the slightest. Juneteenth is one of the brighter moments in our history because it is when we celebrate that, as a country, we are able to correct a wrong. Slavery was deep-seeded. It was (wrongly) celebrated. It was the commercial backbone of half the country. Juneteenth is us celebrating that our country is an experiment, which means we must change direction when things aren’t right.

Yes, to celebrate this moment of correction demands us to remember and recall that for hundreds of years as colonies and as a country, we captured and enslaved hundreds of the thousands of people and shipped them to our shores. This same effort captured and enslaved around 12 million people. 12 MILLION! Not all went to the United States, but their labor absolutely contributed to our economic systems. We enslaved their children resulting in millions and millions of people enslaved in the “land of the free”.

As Marco puts it, slavery isn’t a dark moment in America, slavery was a dark era in America.

How can I celebrate the Fourth of July without acknowledging that our country isn’t perfect? It’s a sham if we pretend America’s democracy somehow insulates us from being wrong. By acknowledging the evil past and transformation away from it through the celebration of Juneteenth, it enhances the celebration of the Fourth of July that our country, founded on ideals not realized then and still not fully realized today, is able to become something better than we were founded, something better than enslaving people, something better than Jim Crow laws, something better than systematic racism.

The Fourth of July and Juneteenth are not in competition with each other. Juneteenth celebrates when, for the first time, the Fourth of July applied to enslaved people. The Fourth of July celebrates that we can have our Juneteenth moments when we’re open and honest about what’s wrong in our country because We The People are this country.

The 1776 Project or the 1836 Project—these attempts to pretend that America (or Texas) are great and glorious places beyond reproach is absolutely not American. By ignoring or whitewashing our history, we are preventing ourselves from critical examination of both what works in our country and what does not work in our country. Without that critical examination, we’ll never have future Juneteenth moments of correcting wrongs because we’ll be too ignorant to accept reality.

Austin Downtown Shooting

Last night/early this morning, there was a shooting in Downtown Austin along 6th Street.

The latest I’ve heard indicates the shooter(s) are still at large and there’s not a lot or publicly known information.

At this time, I keep those injured in my prayers for a quick and full recovery. I also remember the first responders, particularly the police officers who provided first aid and transported many of the injured in their patrol cars due to the crowd slowing EMS response.

As this is about all we know, I don’t want to get into any discussion or debate about politics around this. Is this event a sign of needed gun regulation? Is this a sign that the City Council’s police reform/defunding efforts are harming safety?

In terms of this event, we don’t know any of that yet. Let’s learn what actually happened, then talk about what’s needed.