Friday, December 14, 2012

Making the World Safe for Our Children

By now you've all heard about the sickening school shooting in Connecticut. Innocent children killed—kindergartners trapped in a classroom with a killer, a killer with multiple guns and a bulletproof vest.

I'm sorry to rehash the details. Every time I think about it, everything inside me hurts, and I feel so sad and revolted at this evil.

Why do things like this happen? What is wrong with America? Is it video games that promote mindless violence? Is it TV shows and movies filled with endless guts and gore? Easy access to guns? The breakdown of the family? I wish someone—anyone—had an answer!

Mothers out there, how do you do it? How do you handle this news? I'm not a mother but reading these articles, I was crying my eyes out in my office.

My first instinct was, "That's it. Nowhere in this world is safe. I'm going to homeschool my children. I'm going to move to a farm in the middle of nowhere with an undisclosed address. I'm never letting my children leave our house, never ever ever." And my children don't even exist yet!

My next, slightly more rational, instinct was to ask, "How can I make this world safe for my children, and all children? What can I do to prevent this from happening again?"

I began googling absurd things—"how to make the world safe for children" and "how to work for nonviolence"—anything to give me an answer. This has to stop, I thought. Anything to keep this kind of thing from happening again. I want to work for it personally.

But I couldn't find anything that answered my question: How can I make this world safe for my children, and for all children?

I wish I had an answer—I'm sure we all do. But here's what I've been able to come up with (and this list is more to remind myself than for anyone else):

1. Pray with all we have.

We are removed from the scene of the tragedy and there is no material comfort we can offer. But prayer is not limited by time or space. In the economy of grace, the prayers we offer for the bereaved and the dead may help them more than we know.

2. Share a message of peace.

I had to memorize a poem in elementary school called "The Question," from the Book of Virtues. An excerpt:
"Were the whole world good as you—not an atom better ... Would this world be better?
If the whole world followed you—followed you to the letter ... Tell me, if it followed you, would the world be better?"
That poem haunts me at times like this. Am I doing enough? Am I being enough? Obviously I am not committing any type of crime, but every one of us is part of this society and as such we have a responsibility for each other. I have to ask myself: Am I bearing true witness to the Prince of Peace born on this earth 2,012 years ago?

We used to sing a hymn in church—"Let there be peace on earth, and let it begin with me." If we want to see a different world—a world of peace, where children are safe—doesn't that start with us? So I am trying to ask myself: What more can I do—today?

3. Love everyone we meet.

There's an easy suggestion, right? Let's just get on that while curing cancer and bringing about world peace. But as we know, tiny things can have a such a huge impact. We've all heard stories about the person about to kill himself or commit a crime, who decides not to after someone shows unexpected kindness. I can't help thinking that if I showed a little more love—that if every one of us raised the "love quotient" in this world by just a little bit—it would make a difference. Every little bit helps.

And in the end, this all feels so inadequate. Except to pray.

What else can we do? What would you add to this list?

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