On The Tragedy in Aurora, Colorado
ATLANTA—Rep. John Lewis made this statement one day after a gunman at a movie theatre in Aurora, Colorado opened fire and shot 71 people. It is one of the worst mass shootings in American history.
“As I watch the news reports today, “said Rep. John Lewis, “telling the terrible tales of violence that ruptured Aurora, Colorado, I hope the families and friends of the victims of this unspeakable act will rest assured that they are surrounded by our prayers. When one suffers, we all suffer. When one mourns, we all mourn.
“These dark hours remind me of a poignant speech that Senator Robert F. Kennedy made in Cleveland one day after Martin Luther King Jr. was killed by gun violence and only a few months before he was also shot and killed. More than 44 years may have passed since their deaths, but these words continue to strike at the heart of the rising tide of violence still surging in America today.
“ I invite you to reflect upon his words which have so much meaning at this time. We pray for the victims, and we pray for our nation with the hope that one day we will all learn to study violence and war no more.”
“… I have saved this one opportunity to speak briefly to you about this mindless menace of violence in America which again stains our land and every one of our lives.
“It is not the concern of any one race. The victims of the violence are black and white, rich and poor, young and old, famous and unknown. They are, most important of all, human beings whom other human beings loved and needed. No one - no matter where he lives or what he does - can be certain who will suffer from some senseless act of bloodshed. And yet it goes on and on.
“Why? What has violence ever accomplished? What has it ever created? No martyr's cause has ever been stilled by his assassin's bullet……Whenever any American's life is taken by another American unnecessarily - whether it is done in the name of the law or in the defiance of law, by one man or a gang, in cold blood or in passion, in an attack of violence or in response to violence - whenever we tear at the fabric of life which another man has painfully and clumsily woven for himself and his children, the whole nation is degraded….. (more)
“Yet we seemingly tolerate a rising level of violence that ignores our common humanity and our claims to civilization alike. We calmly accept newspaper reports of civilian slaughter in far off lands. We glorify killing on movie and television screens and call it entertainment. We make it easy for men of all shades of sanity to acquire weapons and ammunition they desire.
“Too often we honor swagger and bluster and the wielders of force; too often we excuse those who are willing to build their own lives on the shattered dreams of others. Some Americans who preach nonviolence abroad fail to practice it here at home. Some who accuse others of inciting riots have by their own conduct invited them.
“….this much is clear; violence breeds violence, repression brings retaliation, and only a cleaning of our whole society can remove this sickness from our soul….we know what we must do. It is to achieve true justice among our fellow citizens….The question is whether we can find in our own midst and in our own hearts that leadership of human purpose that will recognize the terrible truths of our existence.
“We must admit the vanity of our false distinctions among men and learn to find our own advancement in the search for the advancement of all. We must admit in ourselves that our own children's future cannot be built on the misfortunes of others. We must recognize that this short life can neither be ennobled or enriched by hatred or revenge…..”