i saw the first bits of news on friday at my midwife appointment about Sandy Hook. it was a really strange setting - surrounded by women about to give birth - to see reports of so many dead children. not that there is an appropriate setting for that news, just that it felt especially wrong. especially surreal. more than sadness and horror (both of which i feel), there is this huge wall of denial in my mind. i don't want it to be real, because i don't know that i want to live in a world where it is real. perhaps because i'm about to give birth, because i'm steeped in so many extra mothering hormones, i have had a really hard time even thinking about the shooting. i've avoided facebook and the news, knowing that wallowing in the facts will tell me nothing true about what happened. knowing that no amount of anger or sadness that i express to the internet will do anything to bring those babies back. but knowing also that i have to do something, express something, deal with the horror somehow. i've really been struggling with how to live around this, how to shape myself in reaction.
the best i've come up with is that my first reaction to evil in my society must be repentance. not just on an abstract "god forgive us" level, but on a personal level. a level that recognizes my part in the society i live in. a level that recognizes that i play a roll in the numbness, isolation, voyeurism, callousness, hatred, division that leads lonely and disturbed people to a place of desperation and madness. that i play a part in the space that is left open for violent horror to be committed. i play a roll in making a society that fears and judges and isolates those who are hurting, ill, mentally unstable. i play a roll in a society that not only accepts, but fosters, disconnection by constantly coming up with new ways for us to spend less time knowing eachother's hearts and more time reading eachother's tweets. i play a roll in a society that has forgotten how to take care of itself, a community that no longer knows its members or meets their needs, or even cares what those needs are. i allow my elected officials to continually de-fund mental health programs. i participate in a society that requires parents to work the kind of schedule just to make ends meet that leaves not enough time to know their children. that fails to support families and individuals in need of counseling. that tells people who do need that they are wrong for needing. perhaps the denial i feel is in part because i know that if it is real, some of the responsibility is truly mine.
none of this is to excuse or justify what the shooter did. but he was part of a society that i am part of as well. and we are both influenced by and influencers of it. and for my participation in the wrongness, my heart breaks. god forgive me for my callousness, isolation, willful ignorance, judgment. god help me to know my neighbors, and to constantly expand my definition of who they are. god help me to fight the fear and distrust that well up in the wake of this tragedy by doing the opposite - by choosing to move closer to people rather than further away, to open my heart more rather than less, to seek out strangers rather than avoiding them. god help me to teach my children to do the same - to befriend the isolated and angry, to not just see hope for everyone but to actively cling to and fight for it. because i truly believe that there is hope for everyone, but that the good inside us cannot and will not win out on its own. we were not meant to live alone, and when we leave eachother alone we are all responsible for what happens. god forgive me.
that's all i've got really. but i think it is enough to go on for now.