Making No Sense
Though we know that it is impossible to make sense out of the senseless, we find ourselves doing so once again when faced with the massacre of 26 kids and teachers at Sandy Hook Elementary School here in Connecticut. Twenty of the victims are children who ranged from 5 years old to 10 years old. The principal and some of the office workers were among the adults killed. The young gunman killed his mother, a teacher’s aide at the school, and himself. These are the “facts” as we know them at this point and they are not enough to help us put together the pieces of why Adam Lanza would walk into a grade school and gun down children and their teachers. This is a time of mourning here and also a time to place this in the weary mosaic of mourning that is crafted by the violence in our society. How do we turn ourselves away from violence when it is cold and brutal, when it is unintentional but nonetheless deadly, when it is sometimes sanctioned by our institutions—secular and sacred? What are the resources we can draw on when so many of our religious convictions run counter to one another in the face of violence and how to deal with it? I was raised with the abiding message that as a Christian, I am to oppose violence. But when we live in a society (and church) that does not hold a common definition of what constitutes violence, this becomes a dense miasma to wade through. But wade through it we must.
What I do know is that gunning down children in their classrooms is wrong. There are few absolutes in life, but I believe that this is a case for such an absolute. What gives me some amount of hope in the midst of this, is the ways in which religious communities in Newtown and in other cities in Connecticut have open their doors for folks to come, pray, sing, witness against this violence and in support of the families of the deceased and in hope for finding concrete steps to take to end violence.
This was not the blog I thought I was going to write this month but as I mourn the deaths of those massacred here yesterday, I also hold a bit closer the children in our country and beyond who are victims and survivors of violence. In some small measure, we are becoming our own weapons of mass destruction and we must take ourselves off of this wicked production line. There is no hiding place down here and there are no safe enclaves from the eddies of torment modeled by minds gone awry or the cold precision of planning war. Some will say I make too easy an association here but I do not think so. War making or a culture or society of war making misshapes us—all of us. We mourn but we must also turn and renew our commitment to finding peace as testaments of hope and in honor of young lives lost senselessly and brutally in this season of Advent.