So, in Newtown, Connecticut, 20 children are dead.
20 Children. Most of them six-year-olds. Gunned down by a madman with an assault rifle and two handguns.
I spent most of last Friday feeling like crying.
It is hard to be objective about such a crime, such a violation of the innocence of children.
My first reaction was that moral depravity on this scale is impossible to make sense of, because it is truly senseless.
But, what if it is true that I just don’t want to attempt to make sense of it, because of where such an attempt might lead?
Don’t you and I owe it to those children to at least try?
What do these children’s deaths say to us?
Maybe it is the case that we are immersed in evil, and by failing to speak and act against it, we failed to protect these children. Perhaps we all share in some way in the culpability for this event.
Our civilization is saturated with propaganda blaring that Violence Solves Problems. Movies, television shows, popular novels and video games affirm this principle again and again and again, to the point that this glorification of violence is, in an odd way, invisible. Maybe events like this, and the many other massacres that happen regularly in the United States, are trying to tell us to repent of empire, and the attendant violence by which it and all other empires throughout history have survived.I believe that a line – a fairly direct one – can be drawn from a civilization that glorifies and affirms the use of violence, and a disturbed individual that makes use of that glorification in a way not affirmed by that civilization.
“But how can you blame me for this horrible crime? I didn’t do anything,” you and I might object.
That is precisely the problem. You and I didn’t do anything.