Author: Diana Shellenberger


“They will know we are Christians by our love.” Traditional hymn based on John 13:35


Some people who call themselves Christians have substituted the love the hymn praises for love of guns. They seem to identify more with the Crusaders than with the universal love Jesus Christ teaches.


I wrote the poem below as part of our church’s remembrance of the massacre at Sandy Hook Elementary, now nine years ago. It’s hard not to despair that it took nine years to bring agent provocateur Alex Jones to justice for calling the murders a false flag operation, but I’ll take it. This long slog contains a much-needed critique of one of our founding principles: radical independence. The pandemic is revealing what a fallacy it is. So many Americans do not understand we’re all connected. We can love and respect each other enough to wear masks, get vaccinated, and distance. Or we can carelessly and selfishly spread a deadly disease.


Our faith community is proving we’re all responsible for each other. As we light each other’s candles during Christmas worship services, let’s share the light with our larger communities.




December 14, 2012

the day twenty first-graders were massacred in their classrooms

could have been the day we stopped selling

weapons of war to anyone


December 14, 2012 could have been the day

we confessed we were powerless over our addiction to violence


December 14, 2012 could have been the day

we revoked our stubborn defense

of a disputed right to gun ownership


We could have done something to honor the memories of the children

of Sandy Hook


Marjory Stoneman Douglas

and now Oxford


Instead, Congress and the gun lobby did worse than nothing

They suggested the answer to school shootings

was more guns

guns for teachers

bulletproof backpacks for kids

and active shooter drills


In school our children are learning

they’re not safe anywhere


Our children are learning

a stubborn misinterpretation of a governing document

matters more than their safety

matters more than their lives


Our children are learning

the world is a cruel, dangerous place

and powerful people are unwilling to make it better


When our children could be learning

loving our neighbors makes us all more secure


When our children could be learning

it’s OK to change something that hurts others


When our children could be learning

to develop cooperation and problem-solving skills


I’m not ready to write this country’s epitaph

My children live here


On the tombstone of uninfringed gun rights

I want to write

Americans decided enough was enough


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