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Where is the America that I Used to Know?

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The holiday season is upon us. Shopping carts are full with both purchase and layaway items. You remember layaway, don’t you?

Thanksgiving gave us time to spend with family and friends. Some of us ate too much and watched way too much football. Little kids were treated to watching Charlie Brown and Snoopy on television.

College students are back in school now but the Christmas break is in sight. Elementary, middle and high school students are trying their best to sit still for an entire day. Their teachers are providing instruction each day despite the Yuletide spirit being in the air.

All of us are familiar with all or parts of the aforementioned scenarios because that is the America we know. Yet there is a disturbing part of America that has reared its ugly head and is making an attempt to steal our joy.

A few weeks ago, a Planned Parenthood facility in Colorado Springs, Colorado, claimed the lives of three people, including a law enforcement officer. Presidential candidates on both sides weighed in with their thoughts. Bernie Sanders, Independent Senator from Vermont running as a Democrat said, “I strongly support Planned Parenthood and the work it’s doing. I hope people realize that bitter rhetoric can have unintended consequences.” Ted Cruz, R-Texas, said, “Praying for the loved ones of those killed, those injured and first responders who bravely got the situation under control in Colorado Springs.”

Unfortunately, some of us have such strong and, yes, unreasonable positions on issues that we resort to violence. The families of those killed and wounded did not have a happy Thanksgiving. Instead, they were traumatized and heartbroken by this senseless tragedy.

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Some would opine that the gun issue and the abortion issue triggered this shooting. I believe it did. For some years now gun control and abortion have become everyone’s hot-button issues. If you want a heated exchange, just start talking about either of these issues and you will surely get one.

At the heart of both issues is personal choice and rights. Proponents of guns say stricter gun laws take away individual rights. Those in favor of abortions say it is a woman’s body and therefore her right to choose.

Whatever our opinion is about these issues should not result in guns being brandished and lives being lost.

Our sadness and mourning for the Colorado Springs victims was brutally interrupted by a mass shooting in San Bernardino, California, on December 2. Fourteen people lost their lives. More than 20 others were injured in the shooting at a holiday party at a social service center, where there were adults with special needs in attendance having holiday fun.

The shooters have been identified as a husband and wife. They were radicalized terrorists.

Interestingly, this incident occurred just five days after the Colorado Springs shooting. In San Bernardino, Police Chief Jarrod Burguan said, “A man and a woman in the SUV with assault rifles, handguns and assault-style clothing were killed.” Upon inspection of their home an assortment of weapons was found.

One question that is being raised is how the killers could get their hands on so many guns. I believe it speaks to how easy it is to get guns in America today.

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President Barack Obama in an address from the Oval Office on Sunday called upon Congress to make it harder to buy guns and to have stronger background checks. Opponents say this is not the answer. Another point that gun lobbyists use is that guns kill people. Yes, guns do kill people, but who pulls the trigger?

These two incidents serve as a sobering backdrop to what happened in France and Africa where lives were lost because of guns and terrorism.

So what is next? Have we as Americans become immune to mass killings in our own country? Do we simply watch and wait until it happens again and give out more heartfelt sympathies and anguish? As important is, have we given up hope? I hope not.

We can’t celebrate being American and live in America if we see violence as an everyday occurrence. Recently, one college president, Jerry Falwell Jr. of Liberty University in Virginia, encouraged his students to carry guns. Many of us know that is not the answer.

Maybe hearts and minds must reach rock bottom in our hurt, anger and sadness before we will do something about it. I believe we have reached rock bottom.

For those of us who believe in the power of prayer, we must continue to pray for a worldwide deliverance and healing. We know God will do His part. The question is, will we do our part?

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