Dear Members of the IACC,
I am deeply troubled by the horrific massacre that occurred in Florida on Wednesday, February 14th. This was supposed to be a day to honor our humble call to proclaim love in action. Rather we watched this day turn into horror for an entire community of Parkland, Florida, USA. Let us join our hearts together in sending our prayers and condolences to the families who lost their loved ones to yet another school shooting in the USA.
For those chaplains who are near the scene, I encourage you to be part of a Critical Incident Stress Management (CISM) team to assist in the debriefing process through CISM. Likewise, let us all be aware of the need that so many around each and every one of us might need in order to process this horrific event.
For those who live and serve in the United States of America, I pose this question to you. In light of this repeated history of gun violence, how can we/you stand-up and take action to end this in the US? I think we can start by educating people within a process whereby people become thinkers rather than reactors. I believe our pastoral care training can contribute a lot to ending these serious and deadly violent acts. For all of you who regularly counsel those to improve mental health as an LPC, Pastoral Counselor, Psycho-Therapist, or as a person supporting these professionals, thank you for your work! Your commitment to long hours of counseling is extremely valuable to our society as a whole. Keep doing what you’re doing. I know you are making a difference! For others who are professional chaplains and pastors of congregations and healthcare organizations, I believe in addition to acute and long-term care, our task is education.
In every educational process it is necessary to start with certain philosophies that respects core beliefs and ethics. These ethical principles, which becomes our reference line is how we determine the philosophy that becomes the foundation to any type of strategy or methodology. As Christian Chaplains, we draw on Christian Ethics, or Ethics developed by Jesus Christ. Interesting enough, as you know, our country was built upon these core ethics of Christ as the center of what our inspired Word of God instructs us in how to live. As you may agree, our country has fallen away from these core values. There has been too much smoothing over our core ethics that has sadly taken our children’s lives, it has eroded the future of their lives and will erode their children’s lives if we don’t take action.
Pastoral Care is a discipline that helps us to think theologically by reflecting ethically in our contexts. We as pastoral care givers are charged to be advocates for what is right according to our core ethics. That may mean to lobby (appropriately) within legislation. That may mean that we take a stand even if it makes the politicians uncomfortable. It means that we lead discussions in small groups, or participate in conferences. Due to the fact that we serve all people, not just Christians, we can make a greater impact. We don’t have a selfish/self-centered agenda. Our agenda is to enhance the greater good of people of all races, religions, cultures, genders, and abilities, who live in the USA and other countries around the world.
Given all what I have discussed in this post, I recognize that I’m only one voice. In response to the shooting in Florida there are ways that I am personally responding in accordance with my own convictions. I encourage you to do the same of asking, “How can I act for the greater of peace and justice?”
Peace my sisters and brothers,
Dr. Paul D. Kraus