Our friends at The Jesuit Post have published two reflections on the tragedy in Newtown, Connecticut. The first is from Sam Sawyer, S.J.:
This afternoon, the news began to break about the horrific school shooting in Newtown, Connecticut. And before we even knew how many had been shot or the identity of the shooter or anything else except that senseless violence had again been visited on innocent victims — on innocent children — before we knew anything else, we were already talking about it on social media.
Much of that response was prayerful and compassionate: #PrayForNewtown was at the top of Twitter’s trends almost immediately. But at the same time, a debate was already raging.
On Twitter, in comment boxes, on Facebook: people were instantly arguing with each other about whether or not we would finally deal with gun control … or why gun control wouldn’t have helped … or whether this was a result of cuts to mental health services … or whether it was too soon to have these arguments.
Yes, it is too soon to have these arguments. But that we have them — and have them so instantly, so automatically — is in itself worthy of reflection.
One reason that we respond so quickly is simply that we are, God help us all, conditioned for this kind of event. As a society, we’ve seen enough mass shootings that we have evolved a pattern of response, and part of the ritual is a debate about what laws might have prevented it. That debate is necessary; we need to discuss how to make deadly weapons harder, and mental health services easier, to access. But whatever broke in the mind and soul of the shooter cannot be healed even by the best policies, and the hearts that are broken in mourning for their children and loved ones will not be consoled by laws.
Matt Spotts, S.J., offers a second reflection on the senselessness of the shootings:
Damn the fact that the news site in front of me says that 20 children have been shot to death. Damn the fact that I can’t decide whether my heart would be more broken if it was 21. Damn the fact that I even have to consider that question.
Damn the fact that my sister is crying imagining the students she hasn’t yet taught, and my mother is crying because of her love of children. God, bless them for their love. And damn the thing that broke their beautiful hearts.
Damn the fact that I was reading opinion pieces on major sites within hours of the news breaking. Damn the fact that they were so easy to write because we knew it was going to happen.
Damn the fact that I’ve already read dozens of posts and tweets trying to make sense of this. Good people are bawling for gun control while other good people wish that there was a gun there to stop this and other good people think that it’s not quite time for the conversation. Who’s right? I don’t know. I’m just not that smart, and my heart’s too heavy to even ask that question today. Damn the fact that the conversation even needs to happen.
Whatever madness, or rage, or illness, or who knows what was the cause of this, damn it, God. Literally, God: damn it. Declare it accursed. Banish it. Abolish it. I don’t even really know what “it” is. I don’t even know what I mean by “damning” it, except that every fiber of my being cries out against whatever IT is. IT is as good as I can do to get my mind around evil like this. So whatever “it” is, damn It.
I can’t do it anymore. The cycling pictures of children walking away holding hands and sobbing people are too much for me.