Meditation on Newtown
As a parent, there is nothing in the world more painful than losing a child. We have a rich language, but there are no words.
Our instinct is to say, “Let’s make sure this doesn’t happen again.” And of course, we know it will. Remember Charles Whitman? In 1966 he killed 16 people at the University of Texas. We closed the clock tower. Twenty years later, postal worker, Pat Sherrill killed 14 people at a post office in Edmonds Oklahoma. We got the expression, “going postal.” And there was Columbine, Virginia Tech, Ft. Hood, Gabby Giffords, Aurora, and many others in between. We put in metal detectors and improved warning systems. And now, we have Newtown. We know we have a problem with the mass proliferation of guns. We know we have a mental health and social services system that lies in tatters. We know that our lives are filled with huge economic and social stresses. We’ve done precious little about any of this.
Sadly the tragedy at Newtown is unlikely to change anything, because we’ve already started shouting at one another. Understandably, we are screaming about the need for gun control. A screed about the sanctity of the Second Amendment is meeting those screams. America has an epidemic of untreated mental health issues, but we can’t or won’t talk about that. In fact, we’ve built an America where we can’t have a conversation about much of anything.
Many will pray for the souls of the dead and the grief of their families. Add a prayer for all of us, because we need to emerge from our places of worship and our homes, and have a conversation in the public square about the society we’ve become.