“This World is as Broken as It is Beautiful” – A Reflection on the Sandy Hook School Shootings

“This world is as broken as it is beautiful.”

Brooke White wrote that line as part of a tweet this morning in reaction to the senseless murder of six adults and 20 children at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut today. For me, that summed up the nature of our humanity and the world we live in, especially in light of this horrific situation.

Each of us is capable of incredible acts of goodness. I know that’s true because I talk to people all the time who don’t just talk the Christian talk, but walk the walk – from a young woman from Nashville moving to Uganda to care for orphans, to a young mother who started an international adoption ministry for Down syndrome orphans, to an ex-football player who has spent 30 years bringing hope and good memories to kids who are seriously ill. There are life-changing acts of goodness going on around us every day.

Acts like those, along with the simple acts of kindness, sacrifice and self-denial that friends, family members and even strangers quietly practice every day, make this world beautiful. Those acts of beauty can inspire others to act in a similar way. As the author Dostoevsky once wrote, “The world will be saved by beauty.”

For Christians, this world was, in fact, saved by beauty. It was a beauty that started horrifically and paradoxically with a crucifixion. But it ended with resurrection and hope and grace.

Despite that divine gift, however, we remain a broken people – a people that messed up our lives in harmony with God a long, long time ago. It left the mark of original sin on our souls and in our world. It certainly doesn’t mean that we are worthless and horrible people who all have the potential to become mass murderers of little children. But we’re all flawed and can hurt others as well as ourselves in either intentional or unintentional ways. We can make choices that take us further and further away from the life that God intended for us.

As author Dean Koontz once wrote, “Each small meanness, each thoughtless expression of hatred, each envious and bitter act, regardless of how petty, can inspire others, and is therefore the seed that ultimately produces evil fruit, poisoning people whom you have never met and never will. All human lives are so profoundly and intricately entwined – those dead, those living, those generations yet to come – that the fate of all is the fate of each, and the hope of humanity rests in every heart and in every pair of hands.”

What happened in Connecticut today can only be called an “evil fruit,” though we still don’t know the fruit of what. Everyone is asking “why,” but there will never be a satisfactory answer to why someone kills 20 children. Somehow evil infiltrated the brokenness within and led to actions that will cause unknown ripples in the lives of the people who lost children and loved ones.

Each of us is born with a foundation of goodness inside us, a goodness placed there by the God who created us out of love. But we’re also a little broken. Not just some of us; all of us. The choices we make every day can deepen the brokenness or increase the beauty.

So in this world that is “as broken as it is beautiful,” pray for the broken, especially those grief-stricken families in Connecticut. And remember to add your share of beauty to this world. God knows we need it more and more.

UPDATE: FOR MORE READING
- Tom McDonald: The Broken Places
- Why Jesus Wept

About Tony Rossi

After graduating from St. John's University in New York with degrees in Communications and English, Tony Rossi found a job at the Catholic media organization, The Christophers, that allowed him to indulge his interest in religion, media, and pop culture. He served as The Christophers' TV producer for 11 years, and is currently the host and producer of the organization's radio show/podcast Christopher Closeup, writer and editor of their syndicated Light One Candle column, and producer/scriptwriter of the annual Christopher Awards ceremony.


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