I guess everyone is writing about the little kids that were shot in Connecticut today. I kind of didn’t want to say anything. I feel a little sick to my stomach, empty and on the verge of tears (interspersed with actual crying) since the shooting.
But then, a friend posted this on facebook: “20 kids murdered this morning!
Where was god????” I like this guy, a lot. He is so nice. A really kind person and it broke my heart that on top of the sadness of these children dying, their friends having to deal with the trauma of the situation and their parents never getting to hold their children again – we are also lost….looking for god (or God). Now is the time where we would need to turn to him, to be consoled to find answers and actions, but we are wondering about fundamentals.
There was a time I asked the same question. You see, I’ve been a victim of violence as a child and as an adult. And honestly for a long time I was confused about the whole “Jesus loves you” and the unspoken “but not enough to keep you safe from harm”. I mean, OBVIOUSLY God is big enough, powerful enough… if he exists, right? I was also bitter and had a hard time trusting that there was anything good, or that God, who I believed existed, really took an interest in me at all.
But I had a revelation one day. I was thinking about God and that if he IS, if he created the universe and everything in it…. he really must be omnipresent (everywhere). What dawned on me was that the violence I suffered, Jesus (God) suffered too. But in a much more profound way. Here’s how I see it….
- First: God in the world at large. This make God a witness to the violence. Any compassion he has would be activated. But… so often, it seems that he does nothing to stop the very violence that makes him sad / mad.
- Second: God in me. Violence is done to him AS it’s done to me. It’s crazy to think that the God of the Universe allows himself to be subjected to such abuse. But he is in me and is thereby a victim.
- Third: This may upset some of you… But Jesus / God being omnipresent… I mean, doesn’t that make him present in the perpetrator, the murderer, the one COMMITTING the violence? Doesn’t he experience the violence against the ones he loves from the other side as well. (Dont’ think that “the ones he loves” means only the victim) If the Bible is true he came to set the prisoners free – the ones that are in jail because they screwed up, they committed violence. Imagine if you were somehow forced to take part in harming the very child you love so dearly that you would die for them, but you were powerless to stop it. (we will come back to that)
- Fourth: God eternal. He sees the genesis of the crime – from the beginning of time. He sees the repercussions to the end of time. He sees the trickle down violence as people are effected more and less by the tragedy of violence (imposing my will over yours). He sees – and if my suppositions are right – feels the pain of and experiences all these iterations, throughout time.
IS God powerful enough? Yes. And no. The crappy thing about being the essence of truth is that when you promise something, your very nature does not allow you to take it back. (I suppose it takes immense strength keep that promise.) Free will is the most amazing gift and the heaviest burden. I think the weak in our world pay the heaviest price for the luxury of that gift. I call this violence. I am free to love, hate, do good or do evil and impose my will on others that may be unwilling to partake in such actions. So God COULD forcefully stop you from being an ass, from being hurtful, from doing damage to others and yourself. He has the skill, the power, the means… but then he would be the criminal. He would be imposing HIS will on YOU. So now, any authentic love, gift, choice to be kind, etc… means nothing because you are actually not CAPABLE of doing the opposite. Good isn’t good anymore, it’s inevitable activity due to lack of choice. I kind of think we are then zombies (just ones that don’t limp around biting others, you know)
This isn’t a freedom we generally think much about. Freedom to choose how I will act… and react.
My question isn’t “Where was God?” My question is “Where are WE?”
As I looked at images online from the tragedy in Connecticut I saw one that stopped me in my tracks. Children being led out in a row, each child with a hand on the shoulder of the child in front of them. They all looked confused and somewhat distraught, but one girl, maybe 6 years old… well her face haunts me. It was such a deep distress, disbelief and lostness coupled with fear it left me unsettled, deep in my core. And, she reminded me of my youngest son’s oldest daughter. You know how it is, when stuff like that hits home – when you can imagine it actually touching your family, your loved ones.
The other thing that image brought to mine was the picture of the little Japanese girl whose entier backside was burned when we bombed Hiroshima. Same kind of look. It haunts me. At the same time I remember pictures of the faces of children my oldest son encountered in Iraq and Afghanistan. And faces of children forced to kill their parents and become child soldiers in Africa. And the faces of the children who are sold, and bought, and traded and abused because someone used the gift of Free Will for violence. And so my question is…
Where are we? Where are we when children all over the world and in our back yards are suffering violence. We are rightly outraged when 20 die in Connecticut but not moved to action where we can actually make a difference.
We are mostly at home, or the gym, or the bar, or at work being comfortable – happy we don’t have to deal with such things, blissfully unaware they exist. Until we are briefly reminded they do and someone asks, “Where are we?”
My question for myself is, “How can my actions help free a child?” I can’t change the course of events in Connecticut today. I am sad about that. I am haunted by it. And any kind or good actions on behalf of children the weak the taken advantage of won’t effect the families in Connecticut. But, I don’t just want to be saddened only to return to my normal life until the next tragedy makes the news. They are all around us. What if I used my free will differently than that?