Jewish Journal

From Indignation to Transformation

Community members console one another at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School four days after the shooting, in Parkland, Florida, U.S. February 18, 2018. REUTERS/Jonathan Drake

Rabbi Sharon Brous, IKAR, senior fellow at Auburn Seminary

I’m indignant for the parents who spent hours Wednesday afternoon waiting on a street corner to see if their kids were among the living or the dead, and for those right now nervously pacing hospital corridors. I’m angry that across the country, students are afraid to go to school because they know that sometimes — just about three times a week in the United States — a guy walks into a classroom with a gun, the school goes into lockdown, and not everyone makes it out alive.

I’m indignant witnessing the soul-decay of our nation. Our nation, the most powerful in the world, which teaches its citizens that we are completely powerless to act against the man-made disasters that are destroying us. Our nation, in which we’re again forced to sit through the predictable parade of politicians with A+ ratings from the NRA offering condolences and laying blame anywhere but on the AR-15 and magazine clips used to murder those kids and their teachers.

How can we not be outraged? Another young man with white supremacist leanings and a history of mental illness who reportedly abused his girlfriend and posted pictures of himself with firearms on social media was able to legally purchase deadly weapons. I’m angry that lawmakers are using this tragedy as another opportunity to stigmatize those who struggle with mental illness, while both cutting funding for their care and making it easier for them to purchase guns. I’m angry that this week we had to add another American town to our national map of shame, piled high with stuffed animals and flowers and broken hearts and homes.

I’m a rabbi, in the hope and love business, and here I am, full of fury. But today I’m not afraid of indignation. Anger can disease the soul, or it can liberate it. Anger that’s driven by hope and love can be a tool of transformation. Let us use our anger now to end this insanity.