Sandy Hook Shooting
A week ago there was a horrific mass shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary where first graders and kindergartners were brutally murdered. Little tiny, punchy, learning-their-words Kindergartners?
There is no doubt the parents of the United States have loved their kids a little bit more this week because of this tragedy. I myself have a precious kindergartner who is still thankfully alive today. Yeppie!
The other day I was sent this post which claimed that there have been eighteen mass murders in the States this year. The author seemed to point this out to prove we need help because there is evil in the USA too. I found this strange. Of course we need help. We aren’t immune to evil. Where did we ever get that idea?
Despite having a kindergartner, I haven’t felt very emotional about the tragedy in Connecticut, but I understand why many are extremely upset. I assume I am just callused. After all, I do usually write about stopping injustice and pulling people out of extreme forms of poverty (usually originally caused by oppression).
Most Americans are shocked by evil locally. We tend to think of evil has happening far away where we can ignore it. We don’t think of evil as being down the street. Shootings like this remind us that evil is down the street too.
The American Safety Bubble
This response to evil in the US–the shock–bothers me. I see it as a sign that we have willingly subjected ourselves to a bubble, where we can effectively ignore the bad stuff. Sometimes I get the feeling that we Americans are so wrapped up in the pride of our security. We believe we are entitled to safety and well-being simply because we are American.
If you continue down this line of thinking, you can easily observe how much we put into our safety. Our government spends almost one-half of its budget on military spending (protecting our place in the world). We spend less than one percent of our budget on helping the oppressed and extremely poor who are dying because of the reality of evil in their lives, and some of the evil they face is caused by us (our greed, our wars). This less than one percent will be cut in less than two weeks if we don’t raise our voices to stop it.
I am not saying we shouldn’t be concerned with our own safety. I am not anti-military and I fully believe it is a parent’s job to protect their children, providing safety for them. I just am trying to analyzing the average American’s worldview.
I can fly to Africa, Europe, Central America where there are horrors worse than this shooting in less time that it would take me to drive to Sandy Hook Elementary School in Connecticut. Considering, proximity of evil isn’t the root cause of our response.
Is it just because it’s within our borders? That it happened to fellow Americans? Of course it is. But what about everyone else who is not American that faces tragedies like these much more often, even regularly?
Evil exists elsewhere, often in the form of extreme poverty which is caused by lack of opportunities we can readily give. Then there is war and conflict. There is female infanticide, bride burning, human trafficking, rape to “heal people of AIDS” and to “cure them of homosexuality.” Don’t forget the genocides, where governments which go on invasive killing sprees just because they don’t like their minorities.
But this above list of evil, we tune it out; we are numb to it.
I think the horrific incident at Sandy Hook Elementary is trumped by the decades long practices of the LRA in parts of Africa, who have been abducting kids after forcing them to murder their parents, then eventually killing the kids themselves (like in the Machine Gun Preacher– and no, I don’t agree with the way this man carried out his version of justice).
Heck ya, there is evil in the world.
Indifference to Evil
How do we internally justify our indifference to it? And why does Sandy Hook wake us up from indifference to evil?
Often, as Americans, we expect what God never promised us. We claim our safety, health, wealth and opportunity is our right, and then we take what we have for granted until it is gone. I am just as guilty of this as everyone else, and I don’t like it in me when I see it. When I talk with my friends who are refugees, for example, I don’t want to say “woe is me, I am not rich enough- the recession you know; I am not safe enough- there are snipers and shootings.” Yes, this sucks. But it sucks even more that they were stalked down for their race/religion/beliefs, they couldn’t find a job; they ran for their life and their family died. What is worse for them is that they didn’t have a choice that they were born outside of the boundaries of the United States, a place beyond our walls were.we.don’t.care.
Indifference doesn’t help prevent injustices on the innocents, like school shootings.
It is in hearing the stories of other people who have experienced evil that I recognize my worldview is driven by arrogance, self-sufficiency and fear rather than concern for others and trusting that God is good and Big enough to be all that I need (even if I die a lot sooner while living the life that 75 million people dream about, one not driven by self-preservation but about living a story worth living).
There are many things to move on after the Sandy Hook Shooting, whether it is fostering love for the loner/disturbing person, empathizing with those with mental issues, or maybe your conscious dictates you fight for better gun background checks, or work for better school safety policies. But in however you respond, also do this:
Embrace this tragedy as realization that evil exists everywhere. Be intentional rooting evil–especially the evil of indifference–from your own life, and work to foster compassion for those around the globe suffering similar to how those families at Sandy Hook suffer.
Use this tragedy to wake you up to be an advocate for others who are oppressed. Don’t always look the other way, but go out of your way to learn about one injustice/evil happening outside your borders that you don’t want to know about it.
Let’s use our grief over this the Sandy Hook Shooting to change our worldview. Let’s stop putting our energy into fighting for our rights and our safety, but to put it into being grateful for what we have while we still have it and being advocates for those who aren’t safe. Turning from entitlement and indifference is essential to become thankful, generous, and interested in helping others before evil and tragedy strike.
Here are some other articles driven by school shooting to consider:
Something We Can Agree On: From the Aftermath of The Sandy Hook School Shooting (on mental illness)
How We All Miss the Point on School Shootings (on terrorism and empathy)
Everyone Blames School Shooting on Mental Illnesses (on facts and going BEYOND mental illnesses)
Sign a petition or contact your representatives to keep the government from cutting off foreign aid to those that are already dependent on the small amount of money we give away (remember, not for lack of wanting, but most of these individuals don’t have other opportunities to improve their lives). One.org and WorldVision.org
Making up less than 1 percent of the entire federal budget, international assistance funding allows the United States to distribute life-saving food aid and fund child malnutrition reduction programs in countries like Niger, which is still recovering from a devastating drought. (Photo: Ann Birch Graham/World Vision)