Dec 15, 2012

Why again? Some thoughts on this past week:

This has been a very tough week for all of us in this Country.  At both coasts of this land we have heard of senseless tragedies: Oregon and Connecticut. Two young men, deranged shooters, with apparently free access to firearms, chose to inflict chaos upon innocent bystanders.  While both incidents disturb us deeply, yesterday’s incident at a grade school with very young children is especially disturbing.  So many innocents lost and so near the Christmas season of hope and joy.  Words fail us but anger and revenge may overtake us distorting our own necessary clear thinking. 

There is a popular phrase often used in such cases:  “Guns don’t kill people – people kill people.”  Yes, a human being chooses to use the firearm for lethal purposes. Yes, a human being picks up and loads the gun.  But, if there is no gun, no one dies.  So, “Guns do kill people and people choose to use them.”

While the proper use of firearms for appropriate recreation is fine, there is a deeper sense that we need to address the anger and violence in society. The moral framework of religion and a supportive faith community as a regular part of our lives goes a long way towards creating an atmosphere of balance in one’s life.  It’s very hard to know where to begin but a faith-centered respect for human life must be a foundation upon which we stand. 

We have lost respect for human life in this culture and the shock affect of threats against the child in the womb cries out for justice. The great evil of abortion and its tentacles that have touched the mindset of so many throughout society are now bearing painful fruit. Is our legalization of abortion here the reason for this shooting?  Not directly of course but mall shootings and school shootings are a violence which we can see.  The violence of abortion we do not see but its results in the woman and in society are undeniable. Is there a painful lesson we are being taught? It may be good to reflect on this and words from a past Pope.

Our late Holy Father Pope Paul VI, a true voice in the wilderness of his time, still speaks to us 34 yrs after his death. His voice has been called prophetic by some and I do agree. The fallout from his watershed Encyclical, Humane Vitae, warned us of the growth of a pervasive mentality. Four things were named but I think most pertinent in the tragic events of this week, is the first of his list - Infidelity and moral decline.

Paul VI recognized the reality of a contraceptive mentality that would lead to "conjugal infidelity and the general lowering of morality." Only those with their head in the sand of denial would not admit that marriage, family life, violence, and disrespect for human life, along with a fight for individual free choice at the expense of the common good sound like prophecies fulfilled. We have today a clear "anti-child" policy that is affecting marriages and reproduction particularly in third world countries ruled by dictators who have no regard for their people.

Mental and spiritual health is hard to judge and psychology is not an exact science for we human beings are indeed complex. There is no absolute guarantee that such violence will suddenly stop.  But, I think we need to address the pervasive selfishness in society and a morality that is judged by what’s good for me rather than what’s right for the common good.  We can and must create a culture of life and stop with this pervasive violence in movies and media.  Yes, it does create a culture that violence sells and that in the end, violence is the solution.  Have you seen movie trailers recently?

So we begin with prayer, seeking divine guidance from our God who weeps with us but seems, to our puzzlement at times, to permit such free choice that creates such pain.  Was this senseless shooting God’s will?  Absolutely not! 

Christmas is still on the way.  The Savior came into a world of violence, greed, selfishness, disrespect to be a light shining in darkness.  He has shown us a better way – the higher moral plane which to choose.  God is with us in this time.

For the children:

O God, who know that our hearts
are weighed down by grief
at the death of these young children,
grant that, while we weep for them,
who have departed this life so soon,
we may have faith that they have gained
an eternal home in heaven.

(Roman Missal)