Dec 18 2012

Taking Jesus Out of the Box: Tragedy…

Original post at http://jsquigg.blogspot.com/2012/12/tragedy.html

It's been four days since the horrendous tragedy at Sandy Hook Elementary and I'm still struggling with it.  I'm having trouble sleeping, and with a kindergartner and a two year old I have been having irrational half asleep thoughts about preventing something from happening to them while they are safe in their own beds.  My heart bleeds for the parents who are having to deal with a real life nightmare.

I watch very, very little news.  I found out about the tragedy at work.  As I was ringing a customer he said a shooting had happened at a kindergarten and it was "all over the news."  He didn't mention where it had happened right away, and my fear quickly went to my wife and children since my wife takes my daughter once a week to school and it happened to be that Friday.  While I am relieved that my family is safe, I feel sick to think of the many families who are going into a season of peace dealing with so much pain.

As is consistent with the far too many shootings that happen in the US, there is enough blame to go around.  Many blame the media for the over the top coverage that seems to put the killers on a pedestal.  The debate on gun control is waged.  The president gets blamed.  The NRA gets blamed.  Leaders say ignorant things without thinking.  Etc., etc.  No one wants to take the blame.  It's way easier to get behind a solution and pass the buck, and I admit to doing this myself.

Perhaps it is time to come together as communities and fight to prevent this while shouldering the blame ourselves.  We focus on the victims, and rightly so, but there aren't enough people fighting for the kind of pre-prison care to help the mentally challenged.  It is outrageous, from my viewpoint, that it isn't illegal to own an assault weapon.  It is tragic that many feel so afraid that their solution is to arm more people and fight fire with fire.

In the end I don't have a perfect solution.  No one does.  No matter how many people have guns and know how to use them it is nearly impossible to prevent someone intent on doing harm from doing so when they already have the means to do so.

We haven't failed because we didn't get the bad guy.  We have failed because we didn't truly love the bad guy in the first place.  To love our enemies is biblical, and loving your neighbor as yourself is as close to an obligation as there is in the Bible, yet we treat love like it's a feeling instead of the action it was intended to be, whether as a reflection of one's inner feelings or not.  We keep arguing about symptoms without addressing the real problems.

I say we because I include myself in the criticism.  Too often the Bible is interpreted in a way that demands individual adherence in an internal way but leaves one with no sense of purpose as a member of society.  We aren't just called to love our neighbors by ourselves, but as communities, churches, cities, states, countries, governments, etc.  Who knows what level of love in action would have prevented any tragedy?  All I know is that to prevent future tragedy it will need a stronger, united, community that cares beyond charity.

So what am I going to do from now on?  I intend to get to know my neighborhood and neighbors a bit better.  My wife and I will continue to take active roles in our children's school.  Most importantly, I'm going to seize the moments I get with those I love.  You never know what can happen.

I conclude with some Bible verses that speak to prevention and healing in this moment, and pray that God's grace and healing be with the victims:

"Speak up for those who cannot speak for themselves, for the rights of all who are destitute. Speak up and judge fairly; defend the rights of the poor and the needy" Proverbs 31:8-9

 "If there is a poor man among your brothers in any of the towns of the land that the Lord your God is giving you, do not be hardhearted or tightfisted toward your poor brother. Rather be openhanded and freely lend him whatever he needs" Deuteronomy 15:7-8

"Rescue those being lead away to death; hold back those staggering toward slaughter. If you say 'But we knew nothing about this,' does not he who weighs the heart perceive it? Does not he who guards your life know it?" Proverbs 24:11-12

Carpe diem and God bless
Hug your little ones (if you have them) tight

Jason (with heavy heart)

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