This morning, families everywhere began their day just like any other day. I helped my second-grader and first-grader get ready for school and hugged and kissed them before seeing them onto their bus. My husband prayed with them, a tradition I consistently do with my boys each day before they depart for school. Tucked into their lunches were loving notes, another regular tradition of mine.
Families in Newtown, CT also did the same. They sent their kids onto the school buses with hugs or dropped their kids off at the school. Plans were being made for the weekend and thoughts of Christmas in just 11 days filled the little boys’ and little girls’ minds with excitement. It is the season of Peace and Good Will, of sparkling lights, shiny presents under the Christmas tree, carols playing, and candles illuminating. As parents said their good byes this morning, none — not any of us — could imagine the events that tragically would unfold.
A gunman, the son of one of the teachers, entered an elementary school, gunning down the principal, other adults, his own mother, and classrooms of children. A confirmed 26 people lost their lives, 20 of those being little children.
We, as a nation, mourn. We mourn for lives snuffed out when they have barely begun. We mourn for the innocence of children being lost at the sound of gunfire and sights of their friends lying in their own blood. Some of us even mourn for a mother who faced not just her killer but her own son as the killer. Some of us even mourn for a young man, just entering his prime, who should be full of hope and good will but instead ended his life with hate and grievous revenge.
Some of us fall back onto political rants and rages over tighter gun control or looser gun laws. Some blame the schools. Some blame a political party. Some of us just look for someone to blame. Something to blame.
Fear prompts us to cling to an object or specific person to blame. We hope that an easy solution: tighter laws or a specific political party will eradicate our worst fears.
Yet, is it the gun that killed? The gun was the weapon. Laws were already broken in committing this crime. The gunman was not 21. He was not allowed on school property with a gun. He was not concerned with following any laws of decency or morality. If guns were completely outlawed, someone with such hate would surely have found another means of committing such atrocities.
Why do we as individuals and as a nation seek to eradicate the objects and the symptoms rather than the heart issues? Do we not realize that guns were not to blame? Politicians were not to blame. Schools were not to blame.
Perhaps, the questions should be asked instead, “What was the cause? What would cause a young man entering his prime to take the lives of those who gave him life, to take the lives of innocents, and then to take his own life? What would produce such hate and such darkness, such lack of hope and purpose?”
Do we avoid these pointed questions because they are “pointed”? In doing so, do we avoid the questions that point at ourselves? Is it easier to cast blame? Is it easier to blame things or others rather than to look deeper and to ask ourselves and to ask as a Nation where we have gone wrong that innocent children must live in terror and parents walk past rooms with empty beds tonight?
In avoiding the deeper questions and their answers, we avoid healing. In avoiding truth, we allow evil to triumph.
In blaming objects and others, are we not just avoiding the heart issues of our nation and as individuals?
Until we begin to seek healing in our own souls and the “soul” of our Nation, are we not just allowing evil to triumph, to continue, to overcome?
Some who heard of this tragedy immediately became incensed with the killer, spouting off how he should have gone for help. Yes, we would all agree with that. Yet, why is it easy to become angry when parents hold tear-stained pillows tonight instead of the tousled heads of their sleepy children? Our anger feels justified perhaps. There are such strong emotions that we want to do something with that emotion, to feel as if we have done something. We want to fight against this evil. Yet, we choose the very weapons that started this tragedy in the first place. The true weapons are not that of inanimate objects. The true weapons are that of anger that is allowed to fester, of hopes that are crushed, of revenge that is carried out.
In order to overcome evil, should we not deal with the real weapons/the real threats?
In order to cast aside darkness, more light must be permitted and welcomed. Darkness flees when light burns brightly. We must then ask, “What is light? What brings light?”
Perhaps, the questions are best answered by this very season. In eleven days, we will remember a peaceful scene, an innocent scene, a joyful scene, a hopeful scene! The Christ Child came as an innocent Babe. He brought peace to a humble stable, to shepherds. He brought joy to Angels and to the onlookers. He brought hope to those willing to receive Him. He came in a dark political, social, economical time. Perhaps, the star that shone effervescently above his location spoke most eloquently of what His coming would portend to a world. He came to bring light, to bring hope, to bring peace, to bring joy, to bring love, to bring salvation!
As our hearts grieve for those suffering deeply, may we turn from thoughts of blame and anger and instead turn to prayers for healing and comfort.
Do we not overcome the darkness of evil when we turn towards the light?