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Shell Shocked

It was originally known as “battle fatigue.” When a human was subjected to more absurdity and horror than was possible to process, the system simply shut down. During the first WW, when artillery barrages were almost non-stop, it came to be known as shell-shock. Same cause, same symptoms. It was thought that rest and quiet was just what the doctor ordered. Of course, that was the treatment for lots of things.

Now we know PTSD is a real, ongoing emotional issue. It has long-lasting, often devastating effects on the psyche. Active treatment through a variety of methods is indicated.

I wonder if the whole of our society is shell-shocked? I wonder if most of us aren’t suffering from at least a modicum of PTSD? Gun violence is out of control. The disparity between the rich and the poor continues to widen. Working class folks can hardly get along on their income. Health outcomes are demonstratively different depending upon when folks fall socially-economically, and yes, as persons of color. Public discourse is so fractured that we can’t even talk about our issues. The list continues to grow.

So, how to respond? Well, mostly we tell ourselves that it’s “out there.” Yes, it exists, but doesn’t/won’t affect me. We take concrete steps to insulate ourselves, whether with home security, hand guns, auxiliary power units, anything to give ourselves the illusion of safety and security. Oh, and then we blame. The other party, the other guy, Congress, police, people who don’t look like us, mental illness, that list goes on and on.

And we wonder, “Won’t somebody do something?”

Sunday is Peace with Justice Sunday. It is the one Sunday of the year we consider God’s position in all this. Because each person is created in the image of God, each person is entitled to basic human rights. God desires restorative justice and equity for God’s people. God invites us to recognize that peace can only be achieved when there is justice, not justice as retribution, but justice as restoration of human rights.

There is a line in a prayer from the USA Book of Common Prayer that sticks in my throat every time I encounter it; “Grant us grace fearlessly to contend against evil, and to make no peace with oppression.” May this be our prayer for Peace with Justice Sunday.

May we recognize that justice begins with us.

See you Sunday,


To respond directly to Pastor Paul, email him at, or contact him at 816-724-0080

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