I know that most of the blog world has already commented on the Sandy Hook massacre, but it’s on my mind this morning. I haven’t exactly been trying to shut it out, but I also hadn’t stopped to really think about it until this morning. A friend on facebook posted a list of the names and ages of the children who were killed. Somehow, seeing the ages of the children really hit home, and I had a small breakdown in Starbucks. They were all 6 or 7 years old. I have subbed for classes of 6 and 7 year olds, and the thought of anyone deliberately hurting them is incomprehensible.
The massacre has made me question how to grieve far-away tragedies. Thailand seems far-removed from Connecticut, and I don’t know any of the students or families from Sandy Hook. At the same time, I think that this tragedy, and tragedy in general needs to somehow be remembered and grieved, even if one is not personally impacted. I think our common humanity demands it. How to grieve appropriately is what I am unsure of.
At one point in my life, I was so determined to feel others’ pain that I ended up in a state of prolonged, profound depression. This occurred after I spent time working with the dying at Mother Theresa’s home for the dying in Kolkata. While I knew how to feel others’ pain, I didn’t know how to do anything healthy or healing with it. There was no light at the end of the tunnel. It took years, but I finally realized that carrying others’ pain indefinitely wasn’t helpful to them or me. After learning this lesson, I was determined not make the same mistakes again, but went too far in the opposite direction, and became a bit of a cynic, determined not to feel too deeply. It may have felt safe, but it wasn’t the answer either.
Currently, I am trying to find the balance between feeling too much and feeling too little. I don’t have many good answers. I know that when I start to shut-out or rationalize tragedy, I am not feeling enough. When I start to despair, I am feeling too much. I think there needs to be a balance between grief and hope. I’ve come to a place of realizing that no matter how we try to analyze it, or explain it – mental illness, gun laws, video games, copy-cat crimes – tragedies like the Sandy Hook massacre are inexplicable in rational terms. I think that they are symptoms of our deeply broken humanity. The only thing that gives me hope is to trust that there is a God with greater plans for us than our short earthly existence, and that in the end, our broken humanity will be restored. And I pray for the families of the victims and the perpetrator.