They came from everywhere, Europe, Asia, Virginia, Wisconsin and Colorado. Messages of love and prayers for healing. Then there was the onslaught of flowers and stuffed animals that arrived from Santa and homemade cards from schools across this nation. All this for those whose lives were snuffed out on a gray December morning.
Watching from the safety of our living rooms, we witnessed funeral after funeral. In the short time since the shootings occurred, this is sadly getting to feel like old news. Is there a person out there who hasn’t been touched by the school tragedy in Newtown, Connecticut?
And yet the Atheist’s dream question always arises when this kind of thing happens: Where was God in all of this? This time, I have a question, too. Why, in this great country of ours, do we look for God, mainly when tragic events occur? Is it only in moments of desperation that we turn to the Almighty for help while censoring Him in normal, daily life?
It doesn’t matter what faith an individual practices. But it can’t be both ways. To ask “Where was God?” in a tragic situation, while kicking him out of public schools and city hall Christmas displays, for instance, seems illogical. Why do we think a benevolent God, the Judeo-Christian God the founding fathers acknowledged, would hide when we need him most? If you believe that God or ‘goodness’ exists, then it stands to reason that so does evil.
It gets more complicated when we, as a society, make it difficult for those who suffer from mental illness to get the appropriate help and support that they need. The debate will go on for a while, I’m sure, initiated by many in the media, as to whether ‘evil’ really visited Newtown last week. Maybe. But maybe it was just another disengaged, alienated, chemically imbalanced, sociopathic mentally ill individual who decided on that day that enough is enough.
God was present in Connecticut and still is. He shows His or Her face in the families whose children survived that awful day, in the nurses and doctors who treated the victims, in the neighbors who had nothing to do with these people but came anyway just to support those whose lives were changed forever.
God came by way of kindness shown by strangers from all over the world and the clergy who acknowledged that even they could not comfort those who mourned their children. Somehow, there were no words that made sense. God came by the presence of those surrounding the Newtown community.
Maybe the real evil in this situation was the lack of mental health options for a severely disturbed young man.
May Christmas and the New Year bring us that elusive peace on earth and peace in our own lives.
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