Numb, spiritually dead nation

Marian Wright Edelman | 6/3/2013, 9:13 a.m.

Raphael pointed out another consequence of rampant gun violence in places like New Orleans, Chicago and Newark: Young men become locked into a situation where they feel they have to retaliate to protect themselves and to be respected. When a culture teaches its children that violence is a way to resolve conflicts, “if your brother or friend is shot, you think you have to strike back,” he said. “Sometimes, the family members or friends of the shooter assume you will retaliate and go after you preemptively.”

Retaliation is said to be the motive for the Mother’s Day shooting. Police said that the brothers, aged 19 and 24, who are charged with the crime, were part of a loosely organized neighborhood drug gang and were shooting at a member or members of a rival group. The shooting was related to two previous ones, police said. The childhood experiences of the accused brothers have not been revealed, but it would take numbness to violence to shoot into a crowd with women and children.

In Raphael’s view, New Orleans “has a spiritual problem. It is beyond criminal. It is a spiritual problem when in a high population area you see children and you shoot into them.”

America has a spiritual problem when it protects guns rather than children. Since 1963, more than 166,000 children and teens have died from guns on American soil – more than triple the number of U.S. soldiers killed in the Vietnam, Afghanistan and Iraq wars combined. It is beyond criminal that we allow so many children to suffer and die. It is spiritual deadness.

Marian Wright Edelman is president of the Children’s Defense Fund whose mission is Leave No Child Behind. For more information go to http://www.childrensdefense.org.