I remember vividly sitting on my in-law’s couch watching the news report of the Dark Night shootings. I could not imagine why someone could hate other people that they have never met. What kind of a person would do such a thing?
It was difficult enough asking my self this then, and now as I consider the shooter in the Sandy Hooks Elementary tragedy, it is even more challenging. I teach seventeen second graders. They are full of life and are not capable of even understanding why people cut in line, let alone harm someone. It is hard to understand why anyone does mean things, and then when it comes to horrific acts we say things like, “They must have been crazy, abused as a child, too many violent video games, or too much access to guns.”
I don’t really believe any of those things are consistently true. I believe the anger we have is that we hope for better. We want for better. We continually strive for peace in our lives and are disappointed when it does not come, or if it is robbed from us.
Many of us are called to action in these difficult times, although our actions are quickly thwarted because we have chosen to post on Facebook or other social media, but not ask our single parent neighbor how we could help their child. We often want to discuss issues such as gun control or the decline of mental health care, but we do not volunteer in our public schools. We must engage the darkness in people’s lives. Our children deserve better, we must challenge them to love, serve, and accept others.
We must constantly build community around our children that provides an open and honest dialogue about the capability of humans whether through good decisions or tragic ones, and teach them how to carry on afterwards.
We must carry the hope of a better day, envision it, and then act on it.