I debated writing about the recent shooting. Everyone seemed to have condolences and opinions on gun control to share ad nauseum, and I just didn’t feel like adding to the noise. Also, the shooting didn’t shake me. Mass shootings have become so common place that I don’t have emotional reactions to them. The twist of it happening at an elementary school was sad, but still I felt nothing. I felt nothing until about 48 hours later when I began seeing these posts on facebook:
Then I felt something: disgust. If your god abandons children because of a Supreme Court ruling, then you’re worshiping a bad god.
I don’t believe any of these debates will change anything in our culture; they haven’t before. There will be more shootings; I accept that as fact in modern America. More American children will die from a gunman. And more Pakistani children will die from drone strikes. And more Nigerian children will die of malnutrition. And part of me wants to keep feeling nothing, because if I start feeling bad for one, I have to feel bad for the rest. I have to mourn with the thousands of parents who lose their children every day, who see such young potential and ambition and life extinguished prematurely. I’m too weak to feel for all of them; it’s a self-preservation thing. I try to feel just enough to want to make a difference without being overwhelmingly depressed.
This is supposed to be the time of year focusing on the birth of a child, not the deaths of children. But thousands of children die every day, whether it’s Christmas or not. So maybe it is the time to think about the dying children, to look at the broken world where children face violence and abuse and disease and malnutrition. It's time to face darkness.
How can we possibly fix such an evil world? Sometimes the darkness is overwhelming. The evil closes in. And it is when the evil is closing in, when darkness overwhelms, when you are mourning over the innocent lives lost, that a small flicker of light makes the greatest impact. Advent is all about overcoming the darkness. When the nights are long and dark, when evil surrounds us and seems unstoppable, Advent tells us there is a coming salvation. It is a message of hope, that though we live in a broken, dark world, the healing light will prevail. What seems impossible is truth. We will be redeemed.
Promises of hope may not mean much to a parent who just lost a child. We all suffer those moments where the darkness is thick and unrelenting. Part of being a Christian is helping others through those times. By being a comforting friend, an advocate for injustice, or just a silent shoulder to cry on. By bonding together, by not pointing fingers and rejecting blame, by loving everyone as a neighbor, we increase the light. Love fights against darkness. Love comforts. Love conquers.