Thinking About Tragedy

People who experience or are even aware of the horror, anguish and sorrow of seemingly senseless mass killings – especially of children – understandably want an answer to why such a thing has happened.

Many in our culture are more than happy to offer their pet solutions.  Just the fact of this willingness to speak in the immediate wake of such a grievous atrocity should cause their listeners to remain cautious.  The reason for this isn’t difficult to see.

We’ve all heard of well-meaning friends explaining to the grieving widow that if her husband had just <fill in the blank> he would have still been with her today.  If it were that easy, don’t you think the widow would have seen to it; or, in the current case, the school system, local police or the FBI?  Pat answers like this don’t ever provide comfort to those left, and rarely bear any relationship to truth.  Moreover, they tend to indict the presumption of true, heartfelt compassion on the part of their offeror.

Tragedies like this never have answers based on contemporary, worldly cause and effect. None of the school shootings in the US have.  Las Vegas didn’t.  The West Side Highway and Texas church murders didn’t.  Auschwitz didn’t, nor the war that bred it, or any of the wars subsequent to it.

No, we can’t allow ourselves to offer or focus on trite solutions to profound, endemic problems.

Evil happens in the world because people, if they are separated from God, are its willing carriers.  For some, it’s just an argumentative, contrary, self-interested attitude.  For others, it manifests as a willingness to do material harm to others for one’s own benefit.  But for a few, subject to a range of “demons”, it manifests as a willingness, if not a desire, to commit mass murder.

The fundamental truth to understand is that these are not political issues.  These are spiritual issues.  And without a commitment to God, they can never be resolved.

If we were to take seriously God’s call of love for us and desire for our wholeness, we would pursue it unrelentingly in our culture, in our schools, in our families and in our social interactions, rather than snicker at the notion in silence.  Until we do, sadly we will just continue to tilt at windmills.  And, tragically, more innocents will continue to forfeit their lives early.