I am reminded of the scene in “Mr. Smith Goes to Washington,” where Jimmy Stewart’s character, worn down and dry-throated, espouses the virtue of fighting for lost causes because of one simple rule: love thy neighbor.
As we come upon the Christian observance of Holy Week, and we watch or participate in nation-wide Marches for Our Lives, this part of Frank Capra’s script seems prescient. It is an argument for empathy. The teachings of the man known as Jesus, above all, ask us to love our neighbors as ourselves, for everyone is our neighbor. To treat others as we wish ourselves to be treated. Who would want to chalked up as a lost cause, themselves?
The clarity of the importance of these teachings is heightened in our current landscape. No child should have to wake up afraid that today is the day their school goes on lockdown, and not as a drill this time. No parent should face this fear about their child’s daily life.
Let us remember, though, that love thy neighbor extends to not just the neighbors around us immediately, but to ALL our neighbors. School shootings are horrific, and we are right to decry them and fight against them. Lest we forget, though:
- young men of color are 13 times more likely to be shot and killed than white men, in the U.S.
- women and female-identifying genders are shot to death at the rate of 50 individuals per month, by intimate partners, and the presence of a gun in a domestic violence situation increases the likelihood of a woman’s death 5 times over, in the U.S.
- mental health crises ending in suicide by firearm constitute 62% of firearm deaths in the U.S.
All lives lost to gun violence are horrific, ought to be decried, and above all, are losses. But we should vow that they are not lost causes. When we march on Saturday, when we step into Holy Week, when we walk through our neighborhoods – let us remember the depth and breadth of the statement to “love thy neighbor.” Let us remember and then show up to support all causes, and never allow another to be lost.