Thursday, June 11, 2009

An Innocent Man Killed

Greetings fellow Network of Love Lovers,

Today I opened my google news page and read a rather disturbing article from the Washington Post. At the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum in Maryland, an 88 year old man walked in and opened fire. A security guard named Stephen Johns was killed after being hit by a bullet. Here is the beginning of the article:

Colleagues called Stephen T. Johns "Big John," for he was well over 6 feet tall. But mostly friends recalled the security guard's constant courtesy and friendliness.

"A soft-spoken, gentle giant," said Milton Talley, a former employee of the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum, where Johns was killed yesterday in the line of duty -- shot, authorities said, by an avowed white supremacist who entered the museum with a rifle.

"A wonderful individual . . . a truly jovial human being," museum director Sara J. Bloomfield said on this morning on NBC's "Today" show.

Details of the shooting remained sketchy last night, but apparently the 39-year-old guard, who was armed with a .38-caliber revolver, did not have time to react when James W. von Brunn walked into the museum, according to police sources.

"Immediately upon entering the front doors of the museum, he raised the rifle and started shooting," D.C. Police Chief Cathy L. Lanier said of von Brunn, 88, adding that he "was engaged by security guards, and there was an exchange of gunfire."

When the smoke cleared, von Brunn was critically wounded. The only casualty among the guards was Johns, who lived in Prince George's County. At least one bullet from a small-caliber rifle hit Johns in his upper-left torso, according to Johns's employer, the Wackenhut security company.

I pray for the innocent security guard Stephen T. Johns and his entire family. May he rest in peace after the violent way his life was abruptly ended on this earth. And, as difficult as it is to say, I must try and pray for the man with a hateful heart---the cold blooded killer James von Brunn. Hopefully, von Brunn lives with a feeling of terrible guilt for what he decided to do. But, as a Christian person, wanting reconciliation for all people, I pray that von Brunn has a conversion. Maybe I can't grant von Brunn quick forgiveness for being a murderer---but maybe God can be open enough to allow von Brunn to see his wrongs and identify the evil persistent in his entire being.

Sometimes we use the term like "it kills me" when something terrible happens. I think in this situation, it might be appropriate to say that "it kills me" that a person like von Brunn would be evil enough to carry out a hate crime against an innocent person like Stephen Johns. I think it has the potential to actually make us realize how fragile and how weak both our individual and collective human spirit can be. von Brunn was one person who was a white supremacist. But there are unfortunately many other racists like him.

The Washington Post concludes with a telling quote from someone who worked at the museum with von Brunn:

"This speaks so powerfully to the mission of the museum...Which is that hate is still with us, and this is why the museum exists."

Hate does exist, in so many complex and serious forms. We all need forgiveness and reconciliation. May it come for all in God's time.

peace and blessings~

with love,

your friend bob.

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