The following remarks were delivered at St. James Episcopal Church on May 26th.
This time, it just feels different. There are so many more people than ever before, coming to me and expressing the devastating loss of hope.
I keep thinking about the parents. Seeing the pictures of the parents.
Diane and I have three girls, one of them has gifted us Remy. She’s four years old and I see her eyes in the pictures of the children who were so senselessly slaughtered.
The unspeakable horror comes first for me. The almost debilitating anger is close behind and it lingers.
Children in Uvalde, Black shoppers in Buffalo, Jews in Pittsburgh, Muslims in Quebec, gays and lesbians in Orlando, Hispanics in El Paso, Asian American women in Atlanta.
I’m just so tired.
What do we tell one another? What do we tell our children?
There are some things I know:
The real danger here is not the evil, because we know that evil exists. When it appears, we can be horrified and angry, but we cannot be surprised. We know there is evil around us.
The real danger is that we give up and give in to that evil.
This is not normal and we cannot accept it as normal or unavoidable.
And we must fight back against evil. To do this, we must believe there is hope.
But how and where do we find that hope? When we are so sad, so angry, and so tired?
Thank you, to this Church.
It helps to gather us as a family.
To pray together is important.
To hug and comfort each other is necessary.
Many will find hope in this gathering in this place.
But that’s not enough for us all.
I think we each need to find our hope in different places and in different ways.
I find my hope in Remy’s eyes. If I don’t fight for Remy, who will? I know Remy is counting on me, on us, to fight for her.
I love that tonight’s organizers are ending this program by providing us pens, paper and envelopes and inviting each of us to write a letter to our elected officials demanding their action to end the violence. Writing such letters is, in itself, an act of hope.
The Governor yesterday said we should focus on mental health.
I don’t think that’s enough. There are more and better things to do. But you know what? He’s not entirely wrong.
I believe that the arc of justice will bend to ensuring that someday there are background checks at gun shows, and on the internet, just as there are in gun stores, because there’s no effective difference. I believe someday we will have red flag laws that help ensure that guns do not end up in the hands of those that should not have guns. I will continue to fight these fights.
And we should do more to intervene and help those battling mental health challenges. In recent years, the State has utterly abdicated its responsibility to fund and provide programs and support, housing, and services, to address this issue.
If the Governor is telling us that this has finally become a cleared lane, then let’s at least do that. What a wonderful victory that would be. When I write my letter tonight, I will demand that the State adequately and substantially fund mental health interventions and treatment – and not a penny, or a person, less.
We should look to find hope wherever each of us can find it.
Tonight, I need hope. We need hope. We must find hope, build hope, and practice hope.
Because, no matter how sad, angry or tired we are, we must continue to fight evil and never give up.