Tragedy and the tensions that surround

For good reason, most people who write in some sort of public forum are sharing some aspect of their response to the horrors of last Friday.  We live an hour from Newtown, so it is close enough where we feel greater affinity and a greater helplessness as there is little we can do to care for those too far to call neighbors and to close to call strangers.  So I’ve been listening, thinking, and trying to interact with God. And as I’ve reflected there are some tensions that keep coming to the surface…

1.  Motive:  There is a powerful tension between explanation and absurdity.  Why did Adam Lanza do this?  His childhood?  His genetics?  His isolation?  He was “troubled.”  He was “sick.”  What do these mean?  Was he sick like someone who catches a cold, like someone who is predisposed to heart trouble, or like someone overcome by addiction?  What terms do we even use to describe him.  Can we understand why he acted with such calculated violence?  We want to be able to explain it, to make sense out of his actions.  Because if you explain it, then maybe you can prevent it.  Maybe you can see the warning signs of the coming tsunami and evacuate the low lying areas.   If we can explain his motive then maybe some measure of safety, of sanity, of control returns.  While pieces of the “motive” will become clearer, I know that at my worst and best moments I can’t full explain myself.  Why did I…?  I don’t know.  There is a mystery to human behavior.  At our worst, our actions are absurd, beyond rational explanation.  If we could ask Adam, before he took his own life, the reason for his actions, would he have an answer?

2.  Violence: In our society violence and entertainment are intertwined.  We go to action movies, play video games, cheer fights in the NHL, and have a growing interest in MMA.  I’m not coming down on any one of these activities, but it is significant that the way we relax and let our guard down is often in the presence of violence.  Yet, when it comes to actual violence, we crusade against bullying, protest human rights violations domestically and abroad, and prioritize the lives of civilians in war sones.  Do you see the tension in which we both desire and abhor violence  We can’t watch TV or go to the movies without it, but can’t stand it’s presence in the lives of real people.

3.  Gun “CONTROL:” As time passes, the shock wears off, and people consider moving forward, the tension between freedom and security will be explored as politicians debate the proper regulation of firearms.  The debate about gun control is deeply tied to different understandings of freedom and security.

there’s more, but it’s too late…


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