Reflection by Priscilla Lasmarias Kelso given at The Concert Across America to End Gun Violence September 25, 2016


                Union Church in Waban   Sept. 25, 2016

                          Priscilla   Lasmarias   Kelso

Just a few days before Christmas of December 2012, I was overseas and I was overwhelmed by the staggering news that children and their teachers in an elementary school in Connecticut had been senselessly slaughtered by a young and deranged gunman.

That was the turning point for me in responding to the surreal climate of gun violence in America.  Having been numbed by the killings in campuses, in cities, in  workplaces, in shopping malls  across our country over the years,  I had been rather academic about this on-going scourge in American society.   Until December 14, 2012

The massacre of 6-year-olds with a military-type weapon — bullets against children’s flesh — was more than I could bear.  How ironic that I was 10,000 miles away when this killing of the innocents occurred, and not 2 hours from my Newton home to Connecticut where Sandy Hook Elementary school bore this unspeakable tragedy.

So here we are, gathered across America today  in our personal and communal protest against gun violence in our homeland.   Tonight, thousands of us are in places like this church in Waban   to add our voices not only against an out-of-control love affair with weapons, but also for a sane society that values life and decency and peace.

And our counter weapons are music and poetry and community.  Non- violence.   This form of non-violent protest against this obsession with guns is an act of defiance born of the spirit   In the history of non-violence, we remember the cellist of Sarajevo who played in the city square every single day as snipers killed innocent civilians around him.    We remember the nuns in the Philippines, my home country, singing songs of peace while facing the tanks that threatened to crush thousands of unarmed civilians who took to the streets, protesting against martial law.  We remember the story of birds in a forest, protesting with their anguished, soaring song, the death of one of their own, killed by a predator.

What does one do with awareness when awareness awakens the conscience?  How do we wrap our heads around the statistics of 30,000 victims killed every year in this country by gun violence?   We also need to include the thousands who have been maimed and injured and whose lives have been changed forever.

Perhaps we need to say   “30,000 — and one” –   and give that one a name, a history, a thumb print.      Like Catherine Violet Hubbard — 6 years old – in the first grade —smiling in her class picture — a little redheaded girl who loved animals and whose mother survived her unbearable sorrow through prayer and faith

Catherine Violet Hubbard — 6 years old.       30,000 — and one

And perhaps, as we gather tonight, armed with music and poetry and community,

you  and I   may honor the lost and join the living in saying —

Enough!       Enough!        Enough!