An Open Letter to Kyle Rittenhouse

Dear Kyle,

There are three moments that will forever define your life: one, the moment you decided to go to Kenosha, Wisconsin, brandishing an AR-15. Two, the moment a jury found you not-guilty for the killings of Joseph Rosenbaum and Anthony Huber on grounds of self-defense. And three, whatever you decide to do now.

You have escaped incarceration, but you have not escaped the prison in your mind. You live and you will always live with the realization that you killed two men. No matter the laws of Wisconsin, no matter that your lawyer was able to convince the jury that your act was one of self-defense, and no matter how many dastardly forces will use you to bolster their argument that they have a right to kill those with whom they do not agree, in your heart you do know better. You know that nothing they say removes the stain of blood on your hands. During the day, perhaps you escape it. But late at night, there is no way you do.

Your lawyer has told us you regret your decision to go to Kenosha that night “a hundred times over.” He told us that you’ve said, “If I had to do it all over again and had any idea something like this could happen, I wouldn't do it.’” And in some perverse way, I assume that’s true. Your brain literally did not make the connection between carrying an AR-15, and the probability that someone would get killed. Oh Kyle, if ever there was a reason why a 17-year-old should not have access to an AR-15, you’re it.

There is only one way for you to escape the prison in your mind, Kyle, and that is for you to seek forgiveness and redemption – something that neither a jury nor Tucker Carlson can bestow.

The only way you can remove the stain of blood on your hands, the only way you can escape the prison in your mind whose bars will only grow thicker as the years go by, is if you surrender your life to God and ask Him to make of you a man who lives the rest of your life trying to convince others - particularly young people - not to do as you have done.

You have a choice now, Kyle, no different than you had a choice the night you decided to go to Kenosha. You can choose again. If you earn one dollar based on this experience, or if you accept one reward or honor for having done so, then you are killing again. Do not listen to the voices of death, though I’m sure they’re extremely loud - ranging from a far rightwing nutcase Congressman offering you a Congressional internship to a publisher offering you a book deal or a TV channel offering you a TV show. Do not do it. For if you do, you will be killing your victims all over again. And in your heart, you will know for sure that this time it is murder.

You denied Anthony Huber and Joseph Rosenbaum their earthly existence, and nothing can change that. But that does not mean you cannot change what happens now. You can help their souls, and their families, find peace. You can help your country find reconciliation. You can help God bring peace to the world – not through the sword but through love. And if you ask Him to help you do that, He will show you.

Atone in your heart and seek forgiveness. Surrender the rest of your life to the ways of redemption. Can you remove the stain of blood on your hands? Of yourself you cannot, but God can. And He shall not be mocked. A God of Love does not condemn you, but neither is He kidding. He was watching when you made the terrible choice to go to Kenosha. And He is watching still, to see what you do now.

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