We’re all victims now.

People grieve during the Hope Border Institute prayer vigil Sunday, Aug. 4, 2019 in El Paso, Texas, a day after a mass shooting at a Walmart store. (Mark Lambie//The El Paso Times via AP)

To be a person of faith in this world is to live in a constant state of tension. It is a daily bending and contorting, an almost up-to-the-minute discomfort that sits in your chest and bones. To be a Latino of faith in this country—to complicate matters further—is to hope in a living God while knowing that some people simply do not want us to exist. That they would rather see us cold and lifeless in the ground than to be a part of the same community.

Given the events of the last few days, the murders in El Paso and Dayton, Ohio, the temptation is to either want to retaliate or to completely disengage, whatever that looks like for you.

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It can be a strange dance, this whole “love your neighbor” thing. A difficult idea to confront and attempt to reconcile at times, even as the president of the United States continues to fan the flames of bigotry and intolerance.

Given the events of the last few days, the murders in El Paso and Dayton, Ohio, the temptation is to either want to retaliate or to completely disengage, whatever that looks like for you.

I was thinking about these things as I sat in church this past Sunday, mere hours after two gunmen took the lives of innocent men, women and children. I was looking at all the Latinos around me, in my row, across the aisle. I wondered if they were thinking similar thoughts—if they, too, were wrestling with the weight of their existence in an increasingly hostile environment. Were they wondering, like I was, if the person sitting next to them, in church, harbored any hatred toward them?

I was also thinking about Priscilla Zavala, whom I had read about the night before. Ms. Zavala, along with her husband and four children, was among the survivors of the shootings in El Paso. After the shooter was apprehended and people were being escorted out of the shopping mall, Ms. Zavala heard police shout, “We’re letting the victims out.” Naturally, she started to cry.

“What hit me the hardest was being called a victim,” Ms. Zavala said. “Because I didn’t realize we were victims in the whole thing. That’s what we are.”

We are carriers of this collective grief and sadness and anger whose burden will begin to manifest itself daily and in any number of ways.

Part of me hesitates to say this, but I know that, in some sense, we are all victims now. Latinos especially. We are carriers of this collective grief and sadness and anger whose burden will begin to manifest itself daily and in any number of ways. And so, yes, we are victims.

We are victims of the brutality of time. The minutes, days and years of unwarranted death and suffering, the endless clamor and collision of politicians, talking heads, all vying for the same space. All God’s kids, all damaged. Eking out a life in his or her own way, many with little to no regard for anything but their own name. Drifting in the wind from one moment to the next. The brutality of time.

I don’t know what you believe. I don’t know if faith plays a part in how you maneuver through this world in such a time as this. I can’t pretend to know what your eyes have seen or what your past has taught you, the harm it has done. But I do know that I need you. And I need you to know that I need you. And that you need me. I won’t pretend to have deciphered the reasons as to why there is so much injustice, or why evil spreads the way it does in the age of social media feeds. It is a delicate balancing act, this juggling of belief and deep-rooted cynicism. But I have to believe that something good and beautiful can exist on the other side of grief. Hell may be other people, but we are all we’ve got for now.

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Annette Magjuka
4 months ago

There are still good people in this world. I stand with you as a victim, a survivor, and an advocate. We will have to fight for the world we want to live in. Maybe the church will get stronger in its response to the hate. Any time now would be great.

Alan Johnstone
4 months ago

What ideologically biased nonsense.
You Americans have been killing one another for generations.
You boast about the right to carry lethal weapons.
You send troops to kill people not in your country, nor your region nor your continent.
Your nation was born in the fratricidal blood of a civil war.
You raise your children to be self-centred, self-opinionated and greedy and teach them to be ethnically conscious automatically.
You rage against each other when there is a difference of political opinion.

New Testament teaching is missing from this piece.
You are all perpetrators of sin, none of you is innocent.
The source of the anger, contempt and discord is sin.
No-one is good save God alone.

Only a few Christians are salt and light to your nation and by no means are the few all Catholic.

FRAN ABBOTT
4 months ago

Alan, you indicate you are not an American. Where are you from?

Lisa Weber
4 months ago

I certainly feel like a victim of the criminal in our White House. He ravages every bit of decency in this country and claims to speak for all Americans while he does it. I am appalled that this nation has not vomited him up yet. These mass shootings are a part of what he glorifies when he bashes immigrants and minorities. I don’t ever want to hear him called a “pro-life” person again. I can’t pray for him. As long as he is in the White House, we have no hope of progress on any of the problems confronting us.

Judith Jordan
4 months ago

Lisa Weber--
Your comments are excellent.
I have always believed that calling Trump “pro-life” was absurd. When his supporters and the “pro-lifers” make that claim, they demean the entire movement. I have no proof, but if I had to make a guess, I assume that Trump has paid for abortions in the past and, without hesitation, would do so again if he felt it was in his best interest.

Christopher Scott
4 months ago

“We’re all victims now”

There in lies the problem. Society is suffering from a crisis of meaning and the clergy in the church are clueless about how to speak to it. All these young people who are confused, depressed, psychotic and suicidal (a large percentage of them on medication) who act out in unthinkable violence... is that due to white supremacy? Is it guns that create the meaningless attitudes in the youth today? Those that make those accusation and push this political narrative for their own political and personal gain are the ones that push these fragile souls over the edge. Better a millstone be tied around their neck. I don’t see things getting better, they can’t even look to the Church for clarity. It’s very sad.

Roland Greystoke
4 months ago

After 20 years in the military, NRA training and 5 background checks, I would hardly consider myself to be a victim.
"What the liberal mind is passionate about is a world filled with pity, sorrow, neediness, misfortune, poverty, suspicion, mistrust, anger, exploitation, discrimination, victimization, alienation and injustice. Those who occupy this world are "workers," "minorities," "the little guy," "women," and the "unemployed." They are poor, weak, sick, wronged, cheated, oppressed, disenfranchised, exploited and victimized. They bear no responsibility for their problems. None of their agonies are attributable to faults or failings of their own: not to poor choices, bad habits, faulty judgment, wishful thinking, lack of ambition, low frustration tolerance, mental illness or defects in character. None of the victims' plight is caused by failure to plan for the future or learn from experience. Instead, the "root causes" of all this pain lie in faulty social conditions: poverty, disease, war, ignorance, unemployment, racial prejudice, ethnic and gender discrimination, modern technology, capitalism, globalization and imperialism. In the radical liberal mind, this suffering is inflicted on the innocent by various predators and persecutors: "Big Business," "Big Corporations," "greedy capitalists," U.S. Imperialists," "the oppressors," "the rich," "the wealthy," "the powerful" and "the selfish."

The liberal cure for this endless malaise is a very large authoritarian government that regulates and manages society through a cradle to grave agenda of redistributive caretaking."
http://www.libertymind.com/excerpt-madness_267.html

Ákos Tárkányi
4 months ago

You are right and they are right. Half-truths make one.
I wonder why the media never goes after the case, the roots and circumstances of perpetrators when such a massacre happens. There is only the outcry "ban the weapons". Why? To prevent a gunned mass resistance against a coming homosexualist dictatorship planned by the leftist liberal media and the democrats?

Vincent Gaglione
4 months ago

First of all, thank you for your service to the nation. And obviously you must be of stellar character and abilities given all the background checks which you have endured.

And, now, what’s your point?

That all the rest of us with our flaws, failures, sins, personality disorders, economic distress, menial jobs, lousy salaries, poor choices, etc., etc., etc., somehow take up space and steal good money from stellar persons like yourself?

From what you said, I think you figure that most of us are part of the group where Christ said, the poor you will always have with you. And that God orders it that way, if you give a religious bent to the views of the forensic psychiatrist whom you tout. But Christ did say to the self-satisfied, sell all that you have and give it to the poor, and come, follow me.

Given this website on which you write, I’d prefer your politics and your social order needs to be less Darwinian and redirected towards a more Christ-centered outlook, like that of the author of this artcile on which you comment.

J Jones
4 months ago

Vincent, he is quoting a book that appears to have been self-published by its author more than a decade ago and does not appear to have been reviewed by anyone in the author's field and is primarily promoted by conservative radio hosts and online blogs, etc. I know that it is a PR strategy to quote and link to these people and I am reluctant to acknowledge them. AND it is important to provide context.

Lisa Weber
4 months ago

Richard G. - You spend time denigrating those who have reasons to feel victimized. I am tired of men who feel they would be victimized if they were not allowed to own assault rifles with magazines that hold 500 rounds.

Judith Jordan
4 months ago

Lisa Weber---
I agree with you.
Over the years, I have watch some men do things that they thought made them macho.
I have always viewed these actions as a sign of insecurity.

There have been several peer-reviewed research done that show conservatives tend to be more frighten of things than liberals. That is one reason conservatives tend to endorse policies that minimize new influences on society such as sex education. They want huge budgets for defense even though this budget is already ballooned above what even the Pentagon says it needs.

There is some indication that there are some differences in their brains. No matter what anyone does, my brain is never going to understand calculus; and, some conservatives’ brains are always going to be more fearful of new things.

Judith Jordan
4 months ago

Roland Greystoke---
Thank you for your service.

As a lifelong liberal, I am always stunned, and sometimes amused, by what conservatives think liberals believe. Especially since I have never heard or read any liberal make these claims. When I want to understand what conservatives believe, I read articles and books by conservatives. Perhaps you should read some articles and books by liberals. Go to the source. Basic Research 101.

Since you are concerned about people being dependent on others, I suggest you research the government subsidies given to big corporations, big agriculture, and big etc. It is astounding.

I am not discussing who inflicts suffering upon whom. I am merely pointing out that big businesses, etc. are the recipients of huge amounts of subsidies from the government.

Finally, you state the liberal cure is an authoritarian government. In my 76 years, I have never lived under any president that was more authoritarian than Trump.

John Walton
4 months ago

Your desire to be a victim leads me to believe that you need some time on the couch with a good psychologist.

Mike Macrie
4 months ago

I don’t believe the Congress should impeach the President. I believe in the next Election, it’s the responsibility of the people themselves to decide what type of Country they want to live in. The next Election is the most important Election since the Elections of Abraham Lincoln and Franklin Roosevelt. The issues in this country today are as critical as the issues in those times. Do we continue down the same path of Division or are we better than this ?

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