Saturday, December 15, 2012

Making Sense of the Senseless

Dear Nolan,

Something very bad happened in our country yesterday.  It was not a result of war, or the consequence of a skirmish with another country.  It was not a fight for power, or land, or money.  It was not the result of a disagreement over policy, or politics, or even religion.  Many innocent children and adults lost their lives. . . and every adult in our country today is hopelessly confused, and hurting, and desperately trying to make some sort of sense out of such a heinous act.

And we just keep turning it over and over in our heads, because the simple truth is that we just can'tThere is just no sense to be made from it.

I am so thankful that you are not yet old enough to comprehend what happened.  I am glad that, at least at this point, I don't have to answer your questions yet, or try to apply logic and hopefulness to a situation that is incomprehensible, the very definition of madness, and hopelessly turned upside down.  But, as sorely as I wish this weren't true, I know that this is not going to be the last time something like this happens.  And eventually you are going to be old enough to be aware of situations like this, and you are going to have questions.  And so I figured maybe I better go on and start preparing myself for that.  Because at this point. . . I'm afraid that I just don't have answers for you at all.

When this atrocious act occurred yesterday, I think that everyone was just stunned.  It was just too unthinkable; no one could get their head around it.  It felt the same way it feels when you're having a nightmare:  You just keep shaking your head and trying to wake up, because somewhere in your heart you know that certainly this is too evil to be true.  That certainly this could never be reality.

And yet it was.  And as our collective shock slowly began to ebb away, we wanted ANSWERSWhy did this happen?  HOW did this happen??  WHO is to blame???  And people begin to raise the gun-control issues again, among others, in an attempt to not only make some sort of sense out of this tragedy,  but to make an effort to ensure that this sort of thing never happens again.

It is only natural that we feel this way.  These were our friends.  These were our children.

Everybody reacts to tragedy differently:  Some of us want to know why.  Some of us question God and ask Him how could He let this happen.  Some of us get angry at how insane and utterly pointless evil can be, and we cry out for someone that we can make pay for these crimes.  And then some of us merely weep.  Not only for the families and friends of those who were lost, but for where we are as a society that this was even possible, and then we weep some more just out of feelings of pure helplessness.

Because the fact is that you can't apply logic to a completely illogical situation.  We will never be able to make sense out of the senseless.  We will never be able to reconcile the slaughter of innocents.  It's just not possible.  And in that way, I'm afraid that there are just no answers to be had.

But if you were old enough to understand, and if you came to me with questions, I guess the only thing that I could tell you would be this:

We can't make sense out of tragedies like this.  You can't merely apply reason and hope it will look any better in the sunlight.  Because it's just too big.  And while we may never find the answers to truly satisfy a grieving heart's questions, we can certainly find some useful cautions to carry with us.

Do not fool yourself into believing that evil lives in some far-off place.  It is not in some distant land, industriously working to destroy the lives of others.  It walks among us, strolls our sidewalks, and frequents our libraries and grocery stores.  It looks just like us, it is everywhere we are, and it is very real.

In the wake of something like this, it is only natural to grieve and despair.  And to wonder what I, as one small person, can possibly do in the face of so much reckless hate.

I wish it weren't true baby, but bad things are always going to happen.  We cannot stop them.  And when they do happen, good people will always, to a degree, feel woefully and shamefully helpless.

Because we can't control others.  We can't constantly keep watch on them, and we can't force them to do what is right. 

But neither can we live in fear of them.

So instead of answers, I'm afraid that all I can give you is this:

The only weapon we have against this evil is ourselves.  As real as we are constantly being reminded that evil is. . . so is good.  It is as real as you and I.  It is tangible, and it is everywhere.

Each day of our lives we are fighting a war.  It is not a war we asked for, nor did our ancestors, and we can never take a day off.  With every action in our lives, we are constantly choosing and reaffirming which side we belong to.  With our every deed, we become a stronger force for good or evil.

We already have everything we need to shine a light into the darknessWE  are the candle that can be used to light up this world.  It is our responsibility, as warriors of light, to nurture that part in ourselves that houses goodness.  It is our responsibility, to ourselves and to our planet, to feed the part of ourselves that hopesTo strengthen the part that endures, and finds joy in what is true.  To give courage, and power, to the place in our hearts that says I will stand up for what is rightI will care for other people, no matter the cost to myself.  I will protect those that are innocent.  With every chance I get, in every small way I can, I will show this world that even if everyone else falls down, I will still stand.

And in myself, I will grow what is good, and decent, and right.  I will make it stronger.  And I will use it every day, in every way, small or large, that I possibly can.

Because it is the only defense we have:  each other.

And let us never forget, not even for a second, which side we belong to.  Which side we spend our days fighting for.

Let us never grow so jaded that we become unaffected.

Let us never become so weary that we lose the strength to fight.

For the ones that have been lost.  For our future.  And for each other.

Let us never lose hope that our world can, and will, be better.

Let us turn our sorrow into our strength.

And let us never stop trying to get there.

I love you sweetheart.  When I feel too hopeless to go on, you are my strength to stand.  For a better world, just for you.



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