We would have liked to be able to commemorate the one year anniversary of the Sandy Hook School shootings in Newtown more hopefully. We would have liked to commemorate that awful day by looking back on a year of progress – in prayer, in legislation – that protects people from such violence. We would have like to commemorate the day by talking about how the nation responded to tragedy with real changes in our social heart with regards to gun violence and public safety.
Instead, today we’re faced with yet another shooting, once again in a school.
If this were a unique story within the past year it would still be a tragedy, although it’s meaning would be different. But instead we are faced with the reality that 194 children have been killed since Newtown. Children becoming statistics. This is inhumane.
Since the tragic mass-killing at Newtown, The Jesuit Post has been looking at the ways we respond. We cry, we pray, we press for more.
We would like to say something new, but what more can be said? Can we make it a point to put faces to the nameless statistics, so that everyone will be remembered, that may their reality will drive us to finally create change and progress for the sake of human life?
Whatever madness, or rage, or illness, or who knows what was the cause of this, damn it, God. Literally, God: damn it. Declare it accursed. Banish it. Abolish it. I don’t even really know what “it” is. I don’t even know what I mean by “damning” it, except that every fiber of my being cries out against whatever IT is. IT is as good as I can do to get my mind around evil like this. So whatever “it” is, damn It.
With innumerable prayers and countless reflections, why do we seem stuck in an interminable pause, waiting only for the next gunman to act? It could be that calls for action have been routinely drowned out by calls for the status quo. No sooner had Vice President Biden been dispatched to lead a task force on gun violence than the NRA – in a move that seemed to misjudge the mood of the nation – responded with a call for even more guns. Maybe people fear un-thoughtful reactions that don’t address deeper issues about life and violence and the way we care for our neighbors. Rightly so, but it needn’t be that way. We have an opportunity now; we have a choice to make.
At some point — a point I think we have long since passed — we need to have the guts to ask ourselves: when evil is being perpetrated, and we do nothing to change it, are we not being complicit in that very evil? Why are we doing nothing, why are we satisfied with complicity, why do we refuse to accept responsibility and create a better, more just society?
But for now, for today, while we remember a full year since that terrible day in Newtown, and we mourn yet another young life extinguished, for today at least, we will pray. Once again:
For these deaths mean what all innocent suffering and death means: that the world is broken, marked and scarred by sin, and in need of saving. Let our prayer begin there, then, even in anger — at our need, at our failure to understand, at the fact that none of this appears to mean anything except more brokenness and that God remains silent in the face of evil — as it has begun so many times before:
O Lord, how long shall I cry for help, and you will not listen?
Or cry to you “Violence!” and you will not save?
— Habakkuk 1:2
But let it not end there:
For there is still a vision for the appointed time; it speaks of the end, and does not lie.
If it seems to tarry, wait for it; it will surely come, it will not delay.
— Habakkuk 2:3