By Anthony Williams
February 21, 2018 was perhaps the most heart-stricken moment of my life. I was awakened by the cries of my aunt and a phone call that my son, Nehemiah Williams, had been shot to death. Shaken and perplexed, I struggled to pull myself together to respond to a tragic event in my life that I never had to face before. My son, Nehemiah, at age 35 was taken unnecessarily from myself, family and friends.
As a pastor, I had experienced this type of grief before but this time this grief was personal. I realized that I now belong to a club that no one wants to be a part of. Myself and my family were now impacted by the plague of American violence. As I continue to reflect upon this pain that has seeped into my very bone marrow, I reflected on the fact that this abnormal behavior in American society has turned into a normal acceptance.
For over 20 years, I have kept abreast of this growing plague of violence that has consumed our nation and our world like never before. I have always been consciously aware that violence in America has become pandemic. Our social scientists have effectively pointed out the problems but our government refuses to acknowledge the data as it relates to violence.
Elected officials and the media refuse to look at the issue of violence from other perspectives. They continue to insist that we need more gun legislation. We face eight levels of domestic violence and four levels of global violence and this is why we need congressional hearings to effectively counteract this growing plague of violence.
Dr. Martin Luther King was correct when he declared that the soul of this nation is sick and must be redeemed. I have found it to be very frustrating when institutions are in denial of the disease of violence. We all are morally responsible to intelligently speak on this issue in order for effective public policies to be put into place. Violence is eroding the flesh of American society.
I encourage all of us as American citizens to reject this notion that violence of any kind is acceptable. We must all be solution oriented. It is time that this nation examines its soul in the court of public opinion. The American people must stand together in righteous indignation against violence of any kind. If American society is to have a chance for the future, if our children, seniors and citizens are to be safe, I encourage all of our institutions to respond collectively when it comes to the plague of violence.
We have a moral responsibility to stagnate and slay the demons of violence. The death of my son Nehemiah does not discourage me, but encourages me to be a part of the loyal opposition to violence of any kind. I pray that no one again experiences the pain and agony that I have felt as a parent whose child was lost to violence in the streets of our nation. We must not idly sit back in our zones of comfort and hope that this doesn’t happen to me.
Well, I can assure you that the demon of violence is one degree of separation from your doorstep. Civility must be the order of the day, to agree to disagree. To control our anger is a task that we all must take responsibility for.
The rise of mental illness is a reality that we cannot run from. The demon of violence is challenging our nation. This demon dares us, provokes us and cries out America you do not have the courage to stand up and take a position against me.
So I say, let us stand together as a nation and not bow, bend or break when it comes to the legions of violence. No more senseless killings in the streets of our nation. No more shootings at our schools. No more fear that you and I cannot come out of our homes and feel safe as we walk the streets of our various communities. No more unnecessary funerals and grieving families who have lost their loved ones before their time. No more, enough is enough. Now is the time for action.
The monster of violence laughs at us.
I declare to you all that I personally, will not rest nor slumber until this nation comes to grips with the reality that internal violence in America is a threat to our nation’s security. The enemy of America is not from without but within. All like minded citizens, let us stand together that no more tears will flow from the face of parents and loved ones who are burying their children before them.
Yours for Peace,
Pastor Anthony W. Williams
Anthony Williams is pastor of First Congregational Church of Berwyn, 6500 W. 34th Street, Berwyn, IL