"Catch My Breath"

Where to begin?

As the brilliant Sarah Bessey said,

“Lament, go ahead, and I need someone to say it, too, just once, once out loud: what in the actual fuck has happened here?


Personally, I am disgusted.  Appalled.  Yet I’m not completely shocked; as President Obama pointed out, this happens all too often in America lately.

I’m angry, an emotion I feel far too often lately.  I am angry at the person who ruined thousands of lives within minutes, at a country that values its right to bear arms more than the lives of its fellow citizens, at a culture that lets nine year olds play ‘Call of Duty,’ at the media for prying for all of the gory details, and somewhere deep down inside, at God for allowing this to happen to CHILDREN.

I am frightened.  Life feels more fragile than it has in a long time.

Culturally, I am troubled.  We live in a society where heaven forbid we swear on TV or show a little nudity, but it’s completely okay to have ‘Criminal Minds’ on at 8:00 in the evening, show bloody murdered and raped women on ‘CSI’ and ‘The Good Wife,’ and allow violent movies to be rated PG-13 while a few f-bombs get an R rating.

We are an angry and selfish people.  We look for instant self-gratification, we don’t want to examine and battle with the bad parts of ourselves and we have no idea how to deal with our pain.  I know, because I am one of them.

We look at mental illness as weakness.  We stigmatize those who suffer from it.  We treat it like a personal fault rather than an illness, and it IS an illness.  We don’t have near enough resources to deal with the overwhelming amount of people who need help.  We don’t support them.  We pity them and categorize them as beyond help and ignore them.

Politically, I am sickened.  Awhile ago, after yet another US mass shooting, I read an article about how all Second Amendment jurisprudence on the right to bear arms is based on a complete and utter misreading of American history, largely propagated by the NRA (of course I can’t find the article now).  I’m sure you’re not surprised.

There is no common good anymore.  Citizenship means nothing.  We are individualistic and materialistic.  Power and money reign.  The needs of those with access to resources trumps the needs of those without.  We have a very fucked-up sense of what ‘freedom’ means.  This about sums it up:

But I really want someone who advocates against gun control to balance the scales for me, to go ahead and try to explain to me why the inconvenience suffered by gun owners and prospective gun owners under much tighter restrictions on the purchase of guns and ammunition outweighs the death of children in their classrooms, a place where they’re not just supposed to be safe, but to thrive. Explain to me why their suffering is worse than that of the people who died, and lost family members, in the rampage at Aurora, Colorado, where they were drawn to a midnight screening of The Dark Knight Rises out of enthusiasm, because it’s a time when parents with infants can see a movie and trust that they’ll sleep through the screening. Please, balance out for me, the loss of Gabby Giffords’ potential with impatience at a waiting period, or frustration at not being able to fire a certain number of bullets per minute. Because this is the choice we make, every time. And I’m terrified to watch us make it again.

I have no doubt we will.

We are also ignorant. Are these types of shootings not terrorism?  We define terrorism as violence by ‘others,’ mostly Islamic extremists.  But really, what is the difference between 9/11 and the events in Newtown except for scale?  Certainly there are different motives and religious factors involved, yet terror is at the heart of each event.

And more guns won’t solve the problem.  You cannot stop violence with MORE violence.

Spiritually, I just don’t understand.  Why does God reach out and protect some and not others.  Why is it that the innocents suffer?  Sometimes I think it’s a means of showing us the inanity and inhumanity of our lives.  It’s the only thing that makes even a little bit of sense to me.

Yet I strongly object the idea that school shootings are occurring because God has been ‘taken out’ of schools.  These are the views of the religious right which only supports the type of God in schools that fits its own version of God.  A Jewish or Islamist version of God wouldn’t be welcome.  ‘Taking’ God out of schools isn’t so much about moving to a more secular culture than it is about trying to make schools a neutral place where all ideas can be heard.  It’s about teaching kids to respect and be tolerant of other faiths and beliefs.  Christians don’t have a monopoly on truth.

Some days I have no idea what I believe.  God seems very real to me at times, and so distant at others.  This year I am actually practicing Advent, and while I’m not sure what it all truly means to me, I do feel “an Advent ache” (I love that phrase).  We need Someone to save us from ourselves, as we simply can’t be bothered to do it.

While I hope and pray that love and common sense will win out and that these precious children didn’t die in vain (I wish I had a better phrase for what I mean), I don’t believe it will change anything at all.  And if it doesn’t, can anything?

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