“We shall be as a city upon a hill…”

August 13, 2019

I am near sick to death with the predictable responses of politicians who 1) claim mass killings are not who “we” are, 2) point to emotional instability of killers with the implication that killers would not kill if only we could identify them and get them therapeutic help, and 3) ask us to pray for victims and their families.

None of these politicians acknowledge the underlying recipe for the toxic stew in which “we” Americans are immersed:

• Ready availability of guns of war
• Anonymous social media outlets that are devoted to hatred
• Facebook and Twitter that keep the stew of hatred simmering
• National media outlets in pursuit of ratings that 24/7 drum out the commentary and news of confrontation and hatred
• Thousands of examples of gratuitous and graphic murders in film that desensitize viewers (including you and me)
• Video games that allow an otherwise impotent person to aggressively and realistically kill “other” humans for a rewarding score and the reward of feeling a delusional sense of power
• Pervasive worship of and acclaim for the bravery and killing power of American warriors
• A media that diminishes the vast majority of us who live small lives by celebrating 24/7 the tiny percentage of us who are rich and famous
• A vicious president who every day, in his words, tone, expressions and body language, conveys and thereby endorses the overt expression of hatred toward “the other.”

Mass killings are a manifestation of who “we” are. While most of us do try to avoid the stew, we cannot because America’s intolerant, hate-infused culture is pervasive. After 71 years, I am beginning to accept that the love I have held in my heart for my country all of my life has been laid flat.

John Winthrop prophesied: “We shall be as a city upon a hill, the eyes of all people are upon us,” and he has been proven correct, but what the world sees is not a paragon society following the tenets of Christian virtue; rather, the eyes of the world are beginning to see that “we” live in a murderous, rapacious city upon a hill comprising citizens without the collective inclination or will to change our society for the better.

Jeff Lee Byrem
Kennett Square, Pa. and Lewes


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