The news in our city about gang wars and violence is deeply disturbing.
Over the past several weeks news articles and reports have been featured regarding a particularly gruesome targeted gang hit on six individuals at a high rise apartment complex. Four of the individuals were young men deeply involved in the drug trade and well known to both the police and our court system; the other two victims were entirely unconnected with these men; they were men whose only mistake was to have been near and to have seen the assailants, and so they were murdered with the rest. One of those innocents was Ed Schellenberg, a good Christian man who was on site doing fireplace maintenance.
In the last week, I awoke to news of another targeted gangland killing on one of the city’s major streets. Two men were shot dead in their vehicle. This is no more than a couple of blocks from where my two daughters live.
That makes 19 gang-related murders in our city this year.
Responses to this violence have been varied. The police forces of the greater Vancouver region have banded together to form a "Violence Suppression Team" with patrols in local hangouts to surveille and harass known gang members. Op ed pieces in the media are cynical, calling for such things as a revamp of a court system that many claim is entirely lax in its punishment of such offenders, or the government legalization and control of the very drug trade from which the gangs have enriched themselves and over which they’re fighting. The solutions on offer are varied; some touch to mere suppression of the offending behavior, others seek to address systemic issues.
I’ve heard virtually no exploration or address of the deeper human dynamics of all this beyond the mere pronouncements of an offended sense of morality. And where is the involvement that engages for personal transformation?
Everyone is talking to the gun, but no one seems to be talking to the hand.
Where is the voice of the church in all this? I really don’t think I’ve heard it yet. Far from being irrelevant, it is desperately needed.