Connecticut shooting ‘reminds us that evil knows no boundaries’
BY MARY MITCHELL firstname.lastname@example.org December 14, 2012 7:04PM
Firefighters pay their respects at a memorial for shooting victims near Sandy Hook Elementary School, Saturday, Dec. 15, 2012 in Newtown, Conn. A gunman walked into Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown Friday and opened fire, killing 26 people, including 20 children. (AP Photo/Jason DeCrow)
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Across this nation — in towns like Newtown, Conn., where 20 children and six adults were gunned down, and in neighborhoods like Englewood where hundreds of children have been killed — many of us look to the men and women of God to help us survive evil.
Within minutes of the news that so many children had been slaughtered at Sandy Hook Elementary School, some of the nation’s most powerful televangelists turned to their twitter accounts to address our grief:
“T.D. Jakes: This is a tragic, senseless loss of life. Lets pray for the families who carry a sorrow . . . none should have to bear!”
“Joyce Meyer: Heartbroken and praying for the families & friends of those affected by this terrible tragedy in Connecticut today. (Psalms 34:18);”
“Joel Osteen: We are praying for all those affected by the devastating tragedy in CT. Our heart goes out to all those that are hurting right now;”
And Deepak Chopra: “In remembrance of all those that have been killed in the senseless Newtown massacre, I’m observing silence on Twitter [and] Facebook until 12/17.”
No matter what our beliefs, there is no way to make sense of circumstances that would lead to the murders of innocent children in a school.
The dead children in Newtown were victims of the same unspeakable evil that has killed dozens of innocent kids in Chicago — kids who were gunned down as they sat on a front porch, or jumped rope on a sidewalk or slept on a sofa in their own living rooms.
“Who would ever think . . . in a small town?” asked a dazed woman at the scene of the school shooting who was one of the lucky ones because her child was alive.
For the families of the slain, the pain was nearly unbearable.
This man-made calamity struck at the very heart of a community and brought with it so much carnage. President Barack Obama wept during his remarks on the tragedy.
“No place is sacred anymore,” noted B. Herbert Martin, pastor of Progressive Community Church on the city’s South Side.
Martin, who gained prominence for being the late Mayor Harold Washington’s pastor, served the Robert Taylor Homes community for decades. Although the housing project was dismantled, he continues to see violence on the streets around the church.
“Just the other night, a young fellow whom we minister to was running from the gangs. When he made it to the front door, he was shot three times in the back. His body was picked up and taken on to the morgue and that was the end of it,” Martin lamented.
“We are praying with the people in Newtown. We are praying for them and for those who have experienced the violence, the bloodshed and the lawless behavior,” he said. “We are all in this boat together.”
Marc J. Belgrad, the rabbi of the B’Chavana congregation and a teacher at the Chicagoland Jewish High School, said such tragedies are “only surprising when we think that people aren’t capable of doing it.”
“When we have a very rosy and optimistic view of human nature, it surprises us. But coming from my particular community where we have known a lot of horrific things over the century, it doesn’t surprise us that human beings are capable of this,” Belgrad said.
“What I say to people is faith isn’t a faith that everything is OK and faith isn’t a faith that everything will turn out OK. What I would like to call it is faith despite . . . it is a faith and a trust that our lives are meaningful despite these random acts of evil.”
When I reached Father Michael Pfleger of St. Sabina, he, too, was weeping.
“We have to recognize we are in a world where evil is real and where we have neglected our responsibility to be the moral voice about violence. We have become a very violent country and we have to accept responsibility for that,” Pfleger said.
Newtown is a town with a population of only 27,560, according to the 2010 Census. It is an affluent town, and more than likely, most people probably thought the evil could not touch them.
But this terrible tragedy reminds us that evil knows no boundaries.
“We stand in solidarity with the folks in Connecticut and stand in solidarity with the folks in Chicago who have lost their kids,” Martin said.
“We’ve got to have solidarity across the country — Christian, Muslim, Jews — all of us have got to take this seriously and bring back some respect for life, for family, for community.”