16.12.12

On Being a Broken People

Thursday morning I drove to the airport in L.A. where Aaron and the Boy boarded their flight to Thailand. They are spending Christmas holiday helping out at the orphanage, among many other things.

We were listening to the BBC radio broadcast, World Have Your Say, in the car on the way. The conversation was about Syria, and they had some munitions experts describing the types of weapons being used in the Syrian conflict. They talked about missiles and rockets and guns and cluster bombs. Cluster bombs are being dropped into civilian populations that contain incendiary devices with chemicals that stick to your skin and burst into flame. Weapons of mass warfare are being used on regular people who are stuck in the wrong place at the wrong time. The worst part about these bombs is that not all the incendiary devices explode on contact. Many remain dormant until they are disturbed. They are painted in bright attractive looking colors, and most often the people who pick them up to look at them are children, which sets them off and coats these little kids with flaming liquid that they can't extinguish. If they do survive such a things their injuries are horrific, and debilitating.
It was horrifying to listen to, to realize that this is happening, right now, every day. People are deliberately harming others, innocents, in horrific ways.

Friday morning came reports from Sandy Hook, of children murdered in classrooms by deliberate premeditated action.

Right after that I learned of the man in China who attacked 22 school children with a knife.

I was again horrified, and tears flowed as the story came in. Then I watched as facebook erupted into hundreds of comments and opinions and expressions of sadness and disbelief and anger, and all the things we experience when something like this happens. But then people started to point blame fingers, in one direction or another, grasping to make sense of what is so very senseless.

I know that it is so very present, a tragedy, when you can read the names, and see the faces, of the victims and when it happened to people just like us, in a town just like ours, in a school very much like the kind many drop their own children off at every morning. We don't see the faces, or know the names of the children, mothers, fathers, and teachers who died in Syria this morning.

We don’t have the news channel mercilessly show us footage of what happens in Burma when children are used as minesweepers in rice fields, over and over again. How they run, with armed soldiers behind them guns aimed. How a foot disturbs a buried bomb and a tiny body is torn apart in mid air and the others gape in horror but they keep running because of the guns pointed from behind. They don’t play that in front of us that way they play footage of ambulances, weeping children, police sweeps and candlelit vigils in Connecticut. Perhaps if they did it would be easier to care as much about the evil that happens so much farther away from our own doorstep.

The world is no more ugly today than it was on Thursday. People are not more broken than they always have been. It is just harder to ignore today. Today we are reminded that evil lives with us, and near to our children, not just far away, where it threatens other children, children that we do care about, in principle, but don’t think of very often.

So today, as people continue to point fingers one way, or another, trying to distance ourselves from tragedy, trying to explain evil to ourselves, trying to insulate our own families from the possibilities, I beg you not to. Let your heart be torn open, as it should be. Not just for the victims of Sandy Hook but for all of us, who live in a broken world, for all the children who go to bed at night with gunshots ringing in their heads, and have personally known evil in ways that no one ever should.

If we must point fingers somewhere, let us point them at our own hearts, that are capable of knowing of such atrocities and yet of moving on with our own lives as though they aren’t happening. Our hearts that cling to comfortable delusions of security in an incomplete creation, and are shocked every time we realize how false those delusions are. Our hearts that care more about making our corner of this earth a comfortable place for us to pass the time until we die, rather than embrace our calling to bring redemption and hope to the places where the darkness is the thickest.

You may or may not have read the meditations for kids that I write, on Advent, or Lent. If you did you wouldn’t know that the main point of all of this that we celebrate this season, of God coming in the flesh, to dwell with us, is to get his Breath of Life back into us. To equip us once again to have the power to carry out our first mandate, finish the creation, mend the brokenness, bind up the brokenhearted and to bring, through our obedience, the actual will of God here and now. Which is that none should perish, that all are healed, that we live in peace with each other.

I firmly believe we all are given something to do to bring healing and restoration. It’s always something that we can do right now, right where we are, and it’s right in front of us, though often scary to begin.

So I ask you to listen, to lay your heart bare, and to make yourself willing to do whatever it is that you hear God telling you that you can do. We are none of us helpless, for He gives us the strength to be His presence here on earth, his hands and feet, to do the work of healing and redemption. It could be as simple as choosing today to forgive someone you have been angry at for so long, or a gunman who now lies dead, to love someone who is hard to love, to bring joy to someone who takes time to bring joy to. It could be choosing to endure something hard with kindness, and love and as peacefully as possible. “We can do no great things, only small things with great love.” Mother Theresa

You and I, we are part of the problem. We are also part of the solution. We get to participate in redemption this week. If we say yes to the opportunity in front of us. Will you?

1 comment:

  1. Thank you for this post.
    I have been thinking that what happened on Friday is just the 1st Worlds version of the hideous things that occur in other parts of the world.

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