Monday, December 17, 2012

Looking for answers? Don't. There is some evil no logic can fix

Babies. Just babies. In a place where they should have been safe, cradled by ABCs and 1-2-3s, learning to read, learning to be good citizens. It was the worst horror inflicted on the most innocent victims.

Like most of you, when word came out about the tragedy in Connecticut, I searched for answers. I listened to and watched the live coverage. I checked in with the New York Times. I checked in with Twitter and Facebook.

After a few hours of trying to make sense of it all, even watching the President try to offer some words of wisdom to a nation still reeling from this act of utter senselessness -- it even seems silly to call it "senseless," since no words accurately convey the profound sense of grief, devastation and loss that escort this kind of tragedy -- I'm left with one conclusion.

Sometimes there is a level of perversion in this world that defies policies, is too big to be reeled in by religion, is too heavy to be swayed by prevention, focus groups, town hall meetings. Sometimes things happen that would have happened despite the best efforts to prevent it. We live in a world where bad things happen. You can't populate a planet with 7 billion souls and not have a few of them commit unspeakable acts. And as much as we'd all like to find answers and figure out how we can avoid this in the future, my fear is that there will simply always be evil in the world, and sometimes it's going to erupt.

What the hell am I talking about?

In the wake of the shooting, it didn't take long for the gun debate to heat up. Within hours there were lawmakers saying that if the teachers or administrators in that school had been armed this shooting wouldn't have gotten nearly as far and, heck, maybe if the shooter knew there were armed teachers, maybe he would have gone there in the first place. And on the other side, people gasped in horror at the thought that politics and blame-dishing could start even before the first little bodies had been laid to rest. Those same folks wondered, as I often do, why assault rifles are even obtainable outside the military.

To this I say: It is likely that Mr. Adam Lanza would have found a way to kill with or without gun restrictions, and whether or not every teacher in that building had a Glock sitting next to the apples on their desks.

I've heard talk of mental health issues. Some reports are saying Lanza had a form of autism called Asperger's -- which, by the way, has NEVER been a harbinger of doom to come, as far as I know -- and that we need to put the focus of this talk on helping people with mental illnesses.

To this I say: It is likely that Mr. Adam Lanza was going to kill, with or without a therapist's help.

The media has gotten some blame, too. In yet another Morgan Freeman hoax, a diatribe against the media's glamorization of killers has been making the rounds on Facebook. In said diatribe, it is suggested by Freeman (which was almost immediately outed as not being by Freeman at all) that part of the reason these mass killings are happening at a pretty fast clip is because with each one a star is born, and with each one the bar seemingly gets raised.

To this I say: It is likely that Mr. Adam Lanza didn't give a rip about being a star, and that with or without the attention from the media, he was going to kill.

God has been discussed, as well. This one is especially vexing to me. A significant portion of the faith-related Facebook chatter has included this common mantra: If God hadn't been taken out of schools, this stuff wouldn't be happening. Really? I was under the impression that people of faith believed God was everywhere. What's more, I was also under the impression that people of faith believed that EVERYTHING that happens anywhere on earth happens only because God intended it that way. Clearly, there's a problem with that logic. In the present case, that would make God a murderer, and while I'm not a Christian, I certainly don't believe God rolls that way, picking new "angels" to be sent to heaven via cold-blooded murder.

To this I say: It is likely that all the religion and prayer in the world wouldn't have stopped a lunatic intent on killing.

Where does this leave me? What do I think should be done?

I think it's most likely that each of these arguments has merit. It's possible that tighter gun restrictions could have helped, it's possible that a teacher or janitor could have pulled out a gun and killed Lanza before he killed 26 others, it's possible that more focus put on Lanza's mental health might have helped, it's possible that less glorification and celebrity status for killers would produce fewer killers in the future, and it's possible that more prayer and the good moral foundation religion provides could have made a difference. It's also possible that none of this is true.

So what will I do?

I'm gonna hug my kids a little tighter, make sure they know how loved they are, never let a day go by without making sure I've laughed with them and given them knowledge that, as Kirby Puckett once said, "tomorrow is promised to no one," so make sure you live for, and make the most of, today.

And I'll tell you what I won't do: I won't second-guess the schools, I won't blame the media, and I sure as hell won't be purchasing a gun.

But that's just me.


  1. Robb,
    As a person of faith I am compelled to respond briefly to your "impressions of what people of faith believe". As far as the Facebook chatter regarding a reason for this horrific event being the idea that we have taken God out of school, read Rachel Held Evan's blogpost, "God can't be kept out". My favorite quote from it being, "Brothers and sisters, let’s call this one for what it is: bullshit." As far as everything happening because God intended it that way (and along that line, although you did not say this, God must have a reason or God wouldn't give you any more than you can handle), you need to have some theological discussions with a more diverse crowd. A good basic starting point might be Harold Kushner's book, "When Bad Things Happen to Good People" and then perhaps checking out various theological theories regarding the meaning of the Crucifixion - Atonement and/or Ransom are not what every person of faith believes.
    I've posted this anonymously for the public to view, but would be happy to have a discussion with sometime.

  2. If you're going to question the wisdom of my thoughts, show yourself.

  3. I wouldn't say that I'm questioning the wisdom of your thoughts, per say - just your characterization of what every Christian believes. I'll message you.

  4. Not sure I am too impressed with the faith paragraph either