Addicted to death
Like many so other people, the massacre of the 20 children and six adults at the Sandy Hook elementary school affected me deeply.
That afternoon a friend called and asked what I thought about the facile ability of people to procure high-powered guns; I could tell he was really upset and he explained that someone had gone into a school and shot some children. I got on the Internet and looked up the story; to my complete and utter horror I found that “some kids” was (at that point) 18 kids dead as well as at least four adults.
“Oh my God!” I yelled into the phone at my friend, “This is terrible!”
I was out of my office at the time and I went into the house, turned on CNN and called out to my husband. Through sobs, I tried to tell him what had just happened. Interestingly, his reaction was to say, “We need to get out of this country.”
I found that all I could do was cry. And pray. And pray some more and cry some more.
Another, another mass shooting. What to make of a culture that brings back to the Latin, the word “cemetery” to describe an elementary school: “city of the dead.” What have we become?
That Sunday, one of the folks I attend church with talked to me how deeply he too had been affected. He said it made him understand that “...we really have a problem in this country.” Indeed. You could see it all over the faces of the people in the congregation. The minister, Jay Ekman, changed his sermon to address the pain and mourning that was palpable. People in the pews and choir were crying.
Bless Reverend Jay, he's not one to mince words or skirt a justice issue. He pointed out that our drones kill children at least weekly in places like Pakistan and Afghanistan. In fact one of our drones accidentally bombed an entire school.
In social work you learn that most people have to hit bottom before they are willing to make any changes. Maybe the grace in all this is that we have hit bottom as a culture, as a country, when it comes to violence. A new facebook page, “Occupy the NRA,” received one million “likes” in just four days. Four days. Astonishing.
Just as amazing, the page was suddenly, without explanation, taken down by Facebook. The New York Times started to ask facebook administrators a few questions about this (nice to see the media doing its job for once) and incredibly the page was up again just as quickly as it was taken down. Again, I see this as a good sign, a sign of change of power, a change of heart.
Peacemaking isn't just about stopping wars or about stopping killing; it is about stopping the worship of, and the addiction to, death. Death as entertainment, as an economy, as justice, as a way to solve problems and conflicts or as a way to bring peace – the ultimate blasphemy.
“Who will I play with now? I have no one to play with.” -- Little boy upon being told of his sister's death at Sandy Hook elementary school.
“Lord make me an instrument of your peace.” -- St. Francis of Assisi.