Our hearts are heavy and our minds reel from the sheer relentlessness: Muslims gunned down in New Zealand, Christians in Sri Lanka, Jews in Pittsburgh and San Diego.

A violent death is always terrible, but to be gunned down inside a temple, a mosque, a church — this is a singular agony. To be hated for what we believe, or how we worship, is as pointless as being hated for who we choose to love. Faith and religion are not logical conclusions we came to after thorough analysis. These are matters of the heart and the soul, and must be protected against any encroachment, limitation, disturbance or denial, by the government or anyone else. These matters must always be respected if people are going to live together with friendliness, goodwill and mutual respect.

Whether we are in a mosque, temple or church, each of these buildings is supposed to be sanctuary, a place of refuge and safety. We must consider why these places of retreat have become places of bloodshed and terror. What can we do personally to lessen the amount of hatred that is present in the world? How might we help to stop the spread of anti-Semitism and other prejudices based on ethnicity?

It is a sad irony that so much violence is done in the name of religion, when no religion condones violence. All of the great wisdom traditions suggest myriad ways of being a good neighbor, a good citizen, a good person.

If we want our world to be a place of peace, then it is up to us to make it so.

If we want our world to be a place of justice, then it is up to each of us to make it so.

If we want our children to be safe in all the places they will go: school, movies, concerts, nightclubs, each of us must make it so.

The world needs our gifts.

What are we waiting for?

The Rev. Susan A Moran

Unitarian Universalist Society of Rockport

The Rev. Anne Deneen

St. Paul Lutheran Church, Gloucester

The Rev. Janet Parsons

Gloucester UU Church

Rabbi Steven Lewis

Temple Ahavat Achim

The Rev. Eva Cameron

First Universalist Church of Essex

The Rev. Matthew C. Wigton

Senior minister

First Baptist Church of Rockport

The Rev. Alice W. Erickson

United Church of Christ

Randy Sachs, SJ

Eastern Point Retreat House

The Rev. Judith B. Brain

Bridge pastor

Annisquam Village Church

Fr. Jim Achadinha

Catholic Community of Gloucester & Rockport

Holy Family Parish-Our Lady of Good Voyage Parish

The Rev. Floyd B. Grace

Pastor/teacher

The Orthodox Congregational Church in Lanesville

The Rev. Mark Nelson

Founder and guiding teacher

Sweeping Heart Zen, Gloucester

The Rev. Thomas Bentley

United Church of Christ

The Rev. Teri Motley

Interim pastor

West Gloucester Trinitarian Congregational Church

The Rev. Wendy Fitting

Minister emeritus

Gloucester Unitarian Universalist Church

The Rev. Rona Tyndall

Gloucester

The Rev. Bret B. Hays

Rector

St. John’s Episcopal Church, Gloucester

The Rev. Dr. Marlayna Schmidt

Interim pastor

First Parish Church, Congregational, UCC, Manchester

David C. Myers

Pastor

Gloucester and Rockport United Methodist Churches

The Rev. Ronald J. Gariboldi

Retired co-pastor

Holy Family Parish

Gloucester/Rockport

The Rev. Derek van Gulden

Pastor

The First Congregational Church of Rockport

The Rev. Sue Koehler-Arsenault

Community minister

United Church of Christ

The Midweek Musings column rotates among Cape Ann clergy.