“With every life taken, we’re all diminished. That’s something too many people don’t get. Yeah, we gotta stop violence and killing — but you’re only adding to the problem when the way you solve it is by more of the same.” -Joe, in The Onion Girl by Charles De Lint.
When I first heard about the shooting in Newton, CN, I was devastated. All I could think was, “What if that had been my child?” But the very first thought to enter my mind was why? I learned about the event as I was going through my Facebook news feed and saw post after post, people saying, first, that a man had entered an elementary school with a gun. Then I saw the updates: 18 children dead, and 8 teachers. Then they said 20 students. My heart cracked in two. I cried. I didn’t know how to handle the news that an entire kindergarten class had been killed by a man walking into a school with a semi-automatic rifle.
However, I soon got sick of the Facebook status updates that I was seeing. They had gone from prayers for the victims and updates about the accident to the age-old debate about gun control. I couldn’t believe it. People (from both sides of this argument, mind you) had the nerve to sit there and say, “Ha! I told you so!” I wanted to scream, “There are children dead and all you can think of to do is yell about banning all guns or arming every citizen overnight?”
I am still upset over this, and I actually deactivated my Facebook account temporarily. In my eyes, the issue is not guns or lack thereof. The issue is Jesus or lack thereof. We live in a broken world full of broken people, and nothing is going to stop that brokenness. I don’t care about gun control. I honestly don’t. Not right now, at least. However, I do care about the fact that there are families who have lost loved ones in a horrific manner. I can’t help but wonder what their view of God is now. I can’t help but wonder if these little ones ever had the opportunity to hear the gospel of Jesus Christ. I am praying continuously for the Christian community in Newton to reach out and come alongside these hurting families and share the gospel with them in a very practical way: comfort and support in times of need. I pray that Christians everywhere would come together and do whatever they can to help and be a light in a dark world.
I can tell you right now, this little boy was not worried about gun control or political parties. Neither was the girl who is holding him.This is the universal expression of horror and pain. Hands covering his face as he watches something horrific. This is not an expression of outrage. It’s simply fear, shock, and sadness.
We like to politicize everything, here in America. We want to assign blame. By jumping straight to the conclusion that guns or lack of guns could have prevented this tragedy, we are saying, “It was not the fault of a man, but of his weapon.” We are blaming objects, because objects are something we can control. We will march in the streets wearing special colors of ailments of the body, because we can potentially control those, but when it comes to the mind, we don’t want to deal with it, because it shows us how out of control we really are.
If you want to help, start with yourself. You could start by donating, supporting these people financially. There are plenty of ways to do that. One organization that I personally recommend is CLARO. Loosening or tightening of gun laws will not prevent another tragedy such as this any more than laws against drunk driving stop people from getting behind the wheel after their trip to a bar, or laws against drugs will keep people from using and selling them (not that I think those laws should not be in place, please understand).
What will prevent this from happening again is taking time to teach our children and ourselves how to apologize, how to be good people, how to respect others, how to respect ourselves, how to be responsible for our own actions. Teach the children around you that it is OK to recognize when you feel out of control and that there is no shame in telling someone you feel that way and need help. Show that you can admit when you are wrong and be examples of picking yourself up after someone knocks you down. Teach them pride in themselves and that, while you can not control the actions of others you can control your reaction to them. And it’s not just children who need this, some adults have never been taught how to deal with reality without lashing out violently or speaking out in ignorance and hate. For all ages we must be examples of what is good and teach how to recognize what is wrong and how to correct it with love and not with violence. Only instilling the principle of “do no harm” will prevent future acts of senseless violence like that seen today in Newton, CT. Reflect on yourselves, on your relationships and your actions and stop blaming politics, religion, class structure, economics. Be the light instead of pointing out the dark.
-Alicia Vélez Stewart
I think that Alicia about sums it up, and I applaud her. Ultimately, the thing that’s going to fix our world and be a light in a dark place is Jesus Christ. Want to change the world? Share the gospel. You’ll change the world for someone, somewhere.
I’d also like to take a moment and thank God for this young woman, Victoria Soto. She sacrificed her life to save the lives of her students. Before the shooter came into the classroom, she put her entire class into cabinets, or anywhere else that they would fit, to hide them. But when the shooter came into her classroom, there was nowhere for her to hide and she was killed. Thank you, Victoria, for your loving sacrifice.
I’d also like to find names of other heroic teachers to honor them and thank them. If you have any information (pictures, ages, stories, etc) please feel free to share them in the comments.