My heart breaks again every time the news comes on. It's monstrous and maddening, and the tears spill fresh every time.
We don't know why. And we can't presume to speak for God, the children, the shooter, or the shooter's mom.
I only speak for me.
My daughter is Dylan. My son is James. Another Dylan and James died in that school that day, alongside Charlotte, Daniel, Josephine. Olivia, Ana, Madeleine. Catherine, Chase, Jesse. Grace, Emilie, Jack. Noah, Caroline, Jessica. Avielle, Benjamin, Allison. Dawn, Anne Marie, Rachel, Lauren, Mary, and Victoria.
Their families plan funerals instead of Christmas.
I can only imagine. I don't want to; the horror makes my breath catch. This isn't how it should be.
My husband is a hunter. My father was in law enforcement. But I don't recognize our family in the militant pro-gun rhetoric that feels more than a little callous in the darkness of our mourning.
I don't care that they were his mom's guns or that she was licensed for them. Civilians have no need for military style assault weapons. It shouldn't be easier to get a gun than a car--or a counselor.
Our founding fathers never intended this.
In a culture that instagrams lunch and overshares sex, mental illness is one of our last taboos. A persistent stigma keeps many suffering in silence.
Tom Cruise's Scientology isn't the only religion shaming post-partum moms for taking anti-depressants. How many Christian laypeople and professionals insist that Jesus, prayer, and faith are all that's needed to achieve victory against depression--or addiction? (The ugly flipside suggests that those who struggle are to blame for their lack of faith.)
Mental health medical and community resources are modest--and dwindling (although perhaps this will be a bright spot of Obama's new health coverage?). It's no secret that we need more and better access to support for individuals and families.
But having this conversation only in the wake of a shooting can be counterproductive. We don't know if the shooter was in fact mentally ill, and mental illness (which encompasses a broad spectrum of disorders) is NOT a predictor for violence. In fact, people suffering from mental illness are far more likely to be victims than perpetrators of violent crime.
Can we talk about these things in a way that doesn't equate mental illness with violence, reinforcing existing stigmas that already prevent people from getting the care they need?
Many fools speak for a small God made in their own image. I understand Christians wanting to distance themselves from such hate and judgment. But must we give them our spotlight?
They don't speak for me. They never did.
I don't know why those children are dead. We may never have the answers we seek or know what this is really about. But our lack of surety is not a blanket gag order against speaking at all.
There is a time for silence and mourning, yes. But there is also a time to speak. So let us speak. Let us speak with humility. Let us ask questions and admit we don't have every answer. But let that not be an excuse to shuffle our feet and accept that "this is just the way things are."
The way things are is violent. And violence is the way and the fruit of Empire.
As Christians, will ours be the way of escalation, power, and violence? Is ours the way of Herod who slaughtered the innocents and Pilate who put Jesus to death?
Or is ours the way of the Kingdom of God, of peacemaking, and the last-shall-be-first? Is ours the way of loving the "least", laying down lives and arms, and picking up the cross? The way of resurrection, redemption, and all things made new?
If Jesus is Lord then Caesar is not.
Change begins with me.
shared with imperfect prose