Too many children died this week.
In Connecticut, in the USA, a disturbed young man was so angry, so manic, that he decided to shoot his mother. But, that didn’t appease his rage so he dressed up like a commando and went to his mother’s workplace: an elementary school (we Aussies would say a primary school). He then walked into her classroom and shot the little kids and the adults who tried to protect them. 27 dead, including the shooter. “What was he thinking?” There is no rational answer.
It reminded me of a similar incident, several years ago, when a disturbed young man decided to kill all the little girls in an Amish school. There was no rational explanation for that, either. Or the Columbine High School shootings several years ago. Or, when a young man killed 16 children at a school in Dunblane, Scotland in 1996. Or, the Beslan school massacre that ended with the death of 380 people.
Too many times, too many children have borne the brunt of adults’ rage, selfishness and insanity. While the adults are fighting it out in Syria, small children are either being killed, maimed or being made orphans. In many parts of the world, small children are stolen from their homes and trafficked to sexual perverts, or sold into slavery, or turned into the abomination that is a child soldier. In many poorer countries of the world, small children are forced to pick over rubbish dumps, or make bricks, or are chained to looms, or are sold into prostitution because their families can’t afford to feed them.
How can we let this happen to our children? Why do we fail to protect the most vulnerable members of our society?
There is much about this world that is breath-takingly beautiful. There are many, many people whose hearts shine with goodness. But there is also a dark, creepy, sordid side, which is always the result of wickedness in the hearts of men and women.
Some may think I’m naive – even foolish – for being inspired by the Christmas story, but I don’t care. Think what you like. The idea that God entered our world in the body of a Jewish bastard child of a young, poor, insignificant young girl; born in a stable in the lowliest and dirtiest of circumstances; welcomed into the world by his overwhelmed parents, a bunch of smelly shepherds and a few foreign astronomers, gives me hope. I think that sort of a God knows what it’s like to do it tough. He knows what it’s like to be rejected, to be hungry, to live in difficult circumstances, to be devastated by grief, disappointment and loss. He knows the grief and pain that results from lost innocence, mindless brutality and evil left unrestrained. That’s the God I try to follow. I believe in love.
We can’t light up the world, but we can light a candle in our little corner of it. We can’t rescue every child, but we can love the ones we know and give aid to the people who are doing their best to stem the tide of darkness. We can make it our mission, regardless of creed or ethnicity, to spread love, joy and hope in our communities. Maybe, just maybe, we might make a difference.