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A Few Thoughts

December 16, 2012

I’m not quite sure where to start this post.  Since Friday, I’ve been a bit shaken–close to tears a lot of the time.  I’m not sure what questions to ask, I just know the anguish I have felt for the 27 strangers who needlessly lost their lives on Friday.  I’ve cried for the teachers who gave their lives protecting their students.  I’ve cried for the parents of the children that have died and of the children that went to school at Sandy Hook.  I’ve cried for the children.   I’ve cried for those who live.  I’ve even cried for the gunman.  I’ve cried when I listened to Obama talk Friday afternoon, his voice breaking up and I’ve cried listening to the our children’s musical this morning–the children singing “Man is By Nature a Sinner.”

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I haven’t not cried in front of my children, although I wanted to when I picked them up from school on Friday.  My children know nothing of the incident and I plan to keep it that way.  Most of the victims were their ages—6 and 7 year olds.  School is a safe place for them.  I can’t understand how someone could just kill anyone, much less those young children.  I don’t want to burden Madeleine and John with that knowledge.  They still believe people are ok and you just need to watch out for scallywags (which is how we describe anyone who commits wrong–robs, steals, takes children who play outside without parental supervision).  They don’t know evil exists in this world.  They know little of war and crime.  We don’t watch the news in our house or even listen to it on the radio.  Why do my children need to know how evil this world is?

I grew up in a mostly sheltered Mennonite community nestled between two mountain ranges.  In college, I viewed those mountains as trapping me from the greater world.  As a mother, I see those mountains as my own little nest.  That’s not saying there wasn’t crime and everything was utopian–I remember hearing about the prostitution ring that got busted when I was in high school or college.  However, as a child, when I was the age of my children, I knew very little of the outside world.

Some times, in high school, kids would insult others in my Mennonite high school by remarking that they were “soooo sheltered.”

As a parent, I believe it is my job to shelter my children.  For most of their lives, they will live knowing that evil exists in the world around them.  Why do they need to know that when they are 5 and 7?  Curtis and I decided immediately not to tell our children of any of this.  Someday, when they’re older, when there’s another atrocious school shooting, we’ll talk about it.  Now?  No.  My children can maintain their innocence as long as possible.  I’ll e-mail teachers at school to be reassured it won’t be discussed in the classroom.  I’ll refrain from talking about it in front of my children with Curtis and I will hold those tears at bay, so my children don’t need to know what humans are capable of doing to each other.

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I’m a bit of a strange bird.  I don’t really question God all that much.  I don’t think I’ve asked God once “Why?”  I’m not sure if that’s a good or bad thing, it’s just what it is.  I don’t think it’s because I don’t have faith in God, I think it’s more that I don’t have faith in humans.  Us humans, we have free will.  God isn’t pulling strings like a master puppeteer.

God doesn’t will for people to get sick of cancer or AIDS or MS.  God doesn’t will for hurricanes to destroy homes.  God doesn’t will for there to be wars or nuclear weapons.  And, God certainly doesn’t will that children should be gunned down, ever, anywhere.  I have no doubt that God was mourning on Friday, with a much greater intensity than my tears.  God knew all of those children and adults by name, including the gunman.  God formed each of them in their mother’s womb.  God knew their gifts and where their lives could have taken them.  God lost 28 children on Friday.  Surely, God’s heart was broken as well.

No, my question on Friday wasn’t “Why, God?”  My question was more about us.

What are we doing to fail these people?

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Saturday, we went up to a neighbor’s house to play.  The nerf guns were brought out.  The boys chased each other around the castle playhouse shooting each other  with guns.  John had a nerf gun made to be a semi-automatic—it could hold 5 or 6 nerf darts at a time and just cycled them through.  I cringed, repeatedly, as I heard them yell, “I’m going to kill you.”  All of sudden, that kind of play, which I’ve never been terribly comfortabe with, seemed incredibly wrong.  How can it be ok to our let our kids pretend to kill each other, to shoot each other with nerf guns?  I’ve never really bought the “boys will boys” excuse and while I recognize gender differences, I don’t think it’s ok to let boys pretend to kill and shoot at each other because they boys and that’s how boys are wired.  Do we hear what we are saying?  How is that ok?  Not quite sure where we go from here, but my uneasy acceptance of gun play has been replaced with an unwillingness to accept it.

Now, before you totally write me off as a liberal, hippie nut job, let me say this.  I have no problem with hunting—I love deer bologna and deer jerky and I know how I get it.  I have no problem with guns used for hunting.   I think people should be allowed hunt.    However, hunting deer and hunting other humans are two different things.  I’ll leave it at that.

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A last thought.   I read in an e-mail of people turning off their Christmas lights on Friday in honor of deceased.  I can appreciate that gesture.  I felt the opposite response though.  I wanted to turn on the Christmas lights and light candles.  I wanted some light in the darkness that was Friday.  I needed to know that even in the darkness, there is a Light.

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One Comment leave one →
  1. Kate G permalink
    December 19, 2012 9:50 am

    Thank you Mel. Today when my heart is already heavy with the weight of Fridays news, I learn a friend’s cancer had come back and my heart weeps more, your perspective on the world and God brings light and a glimmer of hope in the midst of sadness. Thank you.

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