“The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness can never extinguish it.” –John 1:5
Two Mondays ago, there was a shooting in Oregon, at a shopping mall. Lives were lost. I read about this and fell asleep: no fear, no sadness. I woke up the next morning distraught over my reaction, ashamed how calloused I had been towards this sort of news, I asked God not to let me be hardened towards these things.
Little did I know what Friday would bring.
I was in the Cities on that Friday for work when I heard the news. Twenty little lives lost, twenty-six total. I drove home alone under a dark and starless sky with a heart that felt the same. The tears started. One hundred miles of tears, hot and desperate. Tears for the mothers who would not be able to hug their children that night, whose arms ached for that one last embrace, whose lips craved to kiss those young, warm cheeks just once more, please. Tears for the families who lost their mothers, sisters, brothers, daughters, sons, friends. Tears for the students who saw things no children should ever see.
Tears for Christmas presents wrapped that would never be opened, peanut butter and jelly sandwiches made and never eaten, ballet shoes never worn again, beds that will remain half-made and empty. So empty. Tears for the senseless ending of precious, precious life. Tears for myself, my family, my daughter. Tears because once again, I realized that this world is not always a good or safe place, and that I am not in control. Tears because I would be so selfish to even think of myself in the middle of such a tragedy.
“A voice was heard…weeping and loud lamentation, [a mother] weeping for her children; she refused to be comforted, because they are no more.” Matthew 2:18
There is no greater loss than that of a child, and I am such a fool to even pretend I know what that even means. I have not watched a single minute of news coverage on the shooting, I haven’t read the articles or studied the pictures. I just can’t. Part of me is afraid I would be changed. Afraid that maybe I would give up a little bit when I saw the innocent faces, the young eyes, the sweet, soft cheeks. Afraid that I would stop believing the world is good, that maybe I would give up trying to be good. Afraid that I would be hopeless about my family, my future, where the world is heading.
Tragedy is no place for an optimist. Yet here I am. I cannot avoid it, the world can be terrible. As much as you can be angry at me for saying this, I cried for him too, the man who did all this. Tears for what must have been missing inside of him, for the hurt or confusion or anger or desperation he felt. Tears that he didn’t know the life and love and joy and hope that I know. Tears for my own selfishness and lack of reaching out to people who need hope.
I cried for this loss of innocents, but for my loss of innocence as well. Maintaining purity of heart is impossible in a world polluted by selfish and senseless behavior. I can no longer feel safe, I can no longer leave my daughter anywhere without wondering, what if…
I cried because my heart breaks too much and it doesn’t break enough. Why are the lives lost in Connecticut more devastating than the thousands of lives lost every day to starvation or preventable diseases? Is is because we are used to it? Used to starvation and preventable diseases? Yes. We are detached and desensitized. We try not to let it break our hearts. It is not close, it is not real. We try not to see the pictures and we cannot hear their cries. Most of them don’t live in our neighborhoods or attend our schools.
Why are the lives lost in Connecticut more devastating than the 4,000 that were lost today, and will be lost tomorrow, and the next day, while they are in the safest place in the world? You thought a school was safe? How about a mother’s womb? Where are our tears for those lives?
Please, please hear me. I am not at all minimizing what happened in Newtown. What happened was devastating and undeserved. The lives of those children and adults were precious and did not deserve to end, scared and screaming. It is awful and I hate it. I really hate it. I hate that it happens in the U.S., in my country, and it breaks my heart.
I wonder “how did we get here?” and I could not help but wonder if it had anything to do with the destruction of life in its most innocent form, in the safest place.
The measure of a civilization is how it treats its weakest members
What kind of civilization do you want to be a part of? What will you do, today, to create that sort of civilization? One that values the weak, supports the hurting, offers hope, healing, protection?
“Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.” — Romans 12:21