It is difficult to put words to the tragic shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary. As a father, I cannot imagine what these parents and families are going through. There is a thought that breaks my heart: No doubt, there are homes with presents under a tree that will never be opened. Our thoughts and our prayers rightly go out to all those affected.
I am saddened by what happened. But today I am mourning the loss of empathy in our society. I, like many, followed the events of yesterday on social media. Hours was all it took for people to climb on top of their soap boxes and feel the need to connect this tragedy to a heart-felt cause. I’m not saying those issues aren’t important, I am lamenting our ability as a society to “mourn with those who mourn.”
I think our inability to enter empathetically into the suffering of another comes, not from our preoccupation with our particular causes, but from our emotional immaturity. It might be right to label it as our emotional ignorance. I wonder, in the face of so many posts about gun control, mental health, violent video games, and the media if we really know how we felt yesterday.
Did the person who posted about guns not being the real issue understand their post as an anxious response to indescribable evil?
Did the mental health advocate see their response as an effort to negate the choice of another by labeling it as a disease?
Did the media hater recognize their desire for a scapegoat?
My Facebook and Twitter feed filled with people blaming this or blaming that or making the case as to why we shouldn’t blame that, but very few (if any) stated the most common emotion we all felt: fear. Deep down I believe all of us felt fear.
Because that could have been our children.
It could have been our son.
It could have been our neighbor.
It could have been our town.
It could have been me.
I wonder how we might respond if we moved towards our fear rather than shroud it in a brazen opinion about what may or may not be the reason for evil. Evil exists. And people make evil choices. We can try to figure out what makes a person do what they do all we want but we will never eradicate evil. No amount of legislation, medication, or anything else is going to change the broken nature of a human being. My wish, is that in the face of evil, we as a society could be authentic about what we are really feeling. Because maybe if we admitted that anyone who could walk into a school and shoot children scares us, then we might be able to embrace our humanity enough to embrace another. Maybe our mourning for others would really be mourning. Maybe we would really show compassion. Maybe grace might be extended. Maybe people would feel cared for because they wouldn’t have to wonder if they are being used by some cause. Maybe our authenticity would lead to a genuine care for each other. Maybe in saying how we really felt we would see what we would really hope for.
Maybe this might happen less.
So, for the sake of authenticity, how did you feel yesterday?