Gunfire in a War of Words
By Hal Lindsey
For a moment on Wednesday morning, it all changed. The vitriol died. Democrats huddled in prayer… for Republicans. The Speaker of the House of Representatives spoke for the entire House of Representatives. The Minority Leader of the House fully endorsed the Speaker’s words, and spoke of prayer for all her colleagues’ safety. She spoke of praying that the President have a successful term in office.
It took a tragedy. It always does. I’m sure you know the story. A man shot at some Republican Congressmen practicing for a charity baseball game. He shot Representative Steve Scalise of Louisiana, a Congressional aide, as well as members of the Capitol Police. Only the gunman was killed. As of now, we don’t know how badly the Congressmen and others were injured.
The vitriol in Washington and around the country seems to get worse every day. We expect it during elections, but this time it never ended. If anything, it grew worse. But for a moment on Wednesday, everything was better. Collegiality, empathy, and kindness seemed to fill the air.
Speaker Paul Ryan said, “We are united in our shock. We are united in our anguish. An attack on one of us is an attack on all of us.”
He was referring to the men and women of Congress, but he could have called this an attack on the entire nation. It was an attack on the Constitution — on the mechanisms put in place by our founders to ensure freedom and representative government for all. It was an attack on government of, by, and for the people.
During that moment on Wednesday, Washington stopped. Our leaders seemed to see anew that these American institutions of freedom are indeed precious and rare. Elected representatives looked across the aisle and, however briefly, saw human beings on the other side. Each realized that the gunfire could have been aimed at him or her.
It could have been the other way around, but the killer hated Republicans. Before the shooting, he asked if the players practicing were Republican or Democrat. He was told that they were Republicans. The killer, a Bernie Sanders volunteer, wrote on his Facebook page, “Trump Has Destroyed Our Democracy, It's Time to Destroy Trump & Co.”
One Congressman who was there, Mark Warner of North Carolina, said it seemed that the “gunman was there to kill as many Republican members as possible.”
I haven’t heard anyone blaming guns, Democrats, or Senator Sanders, and they should not. The man responsible for the shooting was the shooter himself. He made the choice. He picked up the gun, and took it to a place he knew men were practicing for Congress’s annual charity baseball game. He made sure of his target. Then he opened fire.
It could have been much, much worse. The Congressmen were hemmed in by the fence. Representative Mike Bishop of Michigan said they were “sitting ducks.” He said the killer “had a rifle that was clearly meant for the job of taking people out, multiple casualties, and he had several rounds and magazines that he kept unloading and reloading.”
Bishop added, “The only reason why any of us walked out of this thing, by the grace of God, one of the folks here (from security detail traveling with Scalise) had a weapon to fire back and give us a moment to find cover. We were inside the backstop and if we didn’t have that cover by a brave person who stood up and took a shot himself, we would not have gotten out of there and every one of us would have been hit — every single one of us.”
I hope the goodwill can continue, but the issues facing this country and the world are severe, and tempers will be raised again. The stakes in national capitals, and especially Washington, get higher every day. The decisions of a few can now impact billions of lives.
Leaders should be passionate about core issues. But they could also stand some kindness. I pray that God will do a work of love in the hearts of America’s leaders.
God’s Word gives the real answer, “Love is patient, love is kind, and is not jealous; love does not brag and is not arrogant, does not act unbecomingly; it does not seek its own, is not provoked, does not take into account a wrong suffered, does not rejoice in unrighteousness, but rejoices with the truth; bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never fails.” (1 Corinthians 13:4-8)
In times like these, we should meditate on these words.