My reaction to the school shooting in Newtown, CT last Friday is troubling. I’ve read the reactions on twitter and skimmed reflections on blogs. I’ve read anguish and anger, pleading and politicking. Parents have written of the fresh gratitude they’ve felt at being able to hug their own kids and of a trauma that stretches beyond human powers of empathy. Political hacks have spun the massacre to imagined advantage for their pet political issue–a shameful display of the very lack of empathy others have expressed. Some thoughtful others have written to help people through such trauma and pain. I’m grateful for such pieces.
But I’ve been troubled by my own heart. I’m afraid I haven’t felt deeply enough. It’s not that I’ve been impassible, unmoved, unfeeling. It’s not that I’ve had the wrong kinds of feelings and thoughts, like the political hacks. I just don’t think I’ve felt enough. I’m afraid my emotions were too shallow and too fleeting. Already I’m off to my life, my routine, my Christmas celebrations, my world. When I read the laments of others, the often reported horror (and it is unspeakably horrible!), I’m concerned that as a father of a six year old who would have been in such a class that I’m not more horrified.
Something is not right. I know the world is so relentlessly and consistently twisted and touched by evil that men and women can become too think-skinned in the face of tragedy. I know that’s possible, but I don’t want to settle for that in my own heart. I don’t want to be so tough, calloused, jaded, or whatever that I can easily “move on” from the wicked shooting of twenty children–children!–and their teachers–teachers!
I wonder if I’m alone. I suppose I cannot be alone because for all the horror and grief rightly felt things seem to remain the same. School shootings now dot recent American history, the most prominent of which include names like Columbine, Virginia Tech, and now Sandy Hook. And I’m left wondering why true outrage isn’t felt, why deep mourning is missing, and why sustained indignation unexpressed. What’s wrong with my heart? Why so shallow and worldly and easily distracted? Why does “coping” look so suspiciously like avoiding, forgetting, ignoring, and abdicating?
I understand that human beings can’t cry forever. I fully realize that anger needs to give way to resolve. I know that feelings are a gift from God but we can’t feed upon them unceasingly. But I’m still left feeling I should feel more and asking why I haven’t. What about you?