Whenever something horrible, such as the shootings at Sandy Hook School in Newton, CT, happen, we look for meaning. We may want to blame, or call out for new laws or beg God for an explanation. In the end, none of these attempts to deal with pain wipe away the suffering.
This was a tragedy that touched all of us at some level. We are all mourning.
All parents know that losing a child must surely be the worst thing that can happen to any of us. In the normal course of things, we expect to outlive our children and so there is shock mixed with grief.
Abrupt death is always shocking. Random, blameless, abrupt death of a child is a tragedy. The death of twenty children and six teachers is a national nightmare.
I’m certain that every schoolteacher in this nation felt something like terror as he or she suited up for duty today. Not only does the possibility of violence seem more real, but also the task of talking with the children about why things like this happen must seem overwhelming.
There were several things about this shooting that made it stand out in our national consciousness. For one, the neighborhood was an affluent community with no particular problems and plenty to commend it.
We know that there are school children dying violently in this country all the time but not in such a large group and on the “other side of town.” There is nothing like trouble in our own backyard to make it real.
That’s the truth whether we like it or not. Single deaths are shocking to those who are directly involved but we are accustomed to the fact that so many of our young people lose their lives to gunfire in cities. We should believe, like the poet John Donne wrote, that we are connected but we are cynical about our affluent islands.
Another reason this event was shocking is that there was no one thing and not just one apparent blame. The shooter must have been insane. Connecticut has some of the strictest gun laws and it looks as if the guns involved were legal.
We may want to blame the ease obtaining guns, the media, video games, violent movies, TV and our national culture and there is truth in each part but it is not the whole story.
Don’t mistake me. I think we can do something about most of the things that abet our national predilection to violence. I would also include better identification and help for the mentally ill as something we could do more about.
I am all for social action steps. Even so, this shooting makes it clear that bad things happen to good people and we don’t always know why. So what are we to do in the face of uncertainty, vulnerability and sorrow?
First of all, we should not rush to blame anyone who was directly involved. The school officials, first responders, local and state officials behaved in an exemplary manner. The President’s two speeches were responsible, sane and inspirational.
We should follow the lead of the various religious leaders who spoke at the memorial service on Sunday evening. They exemplified diversity, cooperation and love that are found in the core of all great religions. I was sorry there were no New Thought people involved but there were several women, a young Muslim teenager and a leader of the Bahia’ teaching.
All great religions have taught us that we should love each other. We should hold each other dear, be together and comfort each other. We should take what action seems sensible but remember that the most important things we can do is be that candle in the darkness.
I was very moved by the service and also by the great love I felt expressed in our Center for Spiritual Living in Carlsbad on Sunday morning. I know that same love was expressed all over the nation, in and outside of church.
Here is my very incomplete shorthand explanation of what I think Religious Science teaches about the nature of good and evil…
There is First Cause, (that we call God) which creates everything out of itself. It is not a person, place nor thing but the Creative Energy of the Universe. It is the consciousness behind everything and it is Love.
This Love creates us, and works in our lives through spiritual law. We are spiritual beings having a human experience and that means we have free will. Our spiritual nature is always perfect, whole and complete and when we return to God, it returns as spiritually whole, perfect and complete.
No experience that we have on the human plane of existence ever damages us although, as humans, we face choices about how much of our God-nature we reveal and live by. As we live, we can reveal more and more of our perfection through choosing Love.
Since we were created by Love, we must have Love as our central nature, whether we always know it or not. We contact Creative Spirit or God through our beliefs, thoughts, and emotions. At the level of Spirit, we are all good and all equal. At a human level, we can gain in understanding and that consciousness can grow as we choose to love. Consciousness continues.
We are in God and God is in us but we are not all of God and we do not understand all that God understands.
Perhaps at some time it will all be revealed but now we do look though a glass darkly. The more Love we have, the more we understand. The more we understand, the more love we have. We can always choose to express more love. That is why three is opportunity in any challenge. Love may be deepened by any tragedy because we always have choice about how to respond.
For a more complete and clearer explanation, I suggest you take classes, read books and attend a Center For Spiritual Living close to you. If there are none nearby, check out the CSL websites and you will find online talks, written prayers and articles.
The main thing I you to take away from this posting today is that you do not have to have all the answers before you know what to do. Just follow your instincts and express more love. Make it a point to reach out and love others today. Send out your Christmas cards or letters and call up people you want to cheer up. It will make others feel better and it will also make you feel better. Love really is the answer.
Every one of us faces a choice today. We can choose to reach out and offer love to others. Or not. If we offer love, we are expressing the highest and best meaning that we can know about life.
That is what I understand on this day. Think about what you understand. Ask yourself if you can think of some way to express a little more love today than you did yesterday. Then make the move in the direction of the light.
How do I feel?
Who do I love?
Who can I reach out to?