Today is a somber day. All over the TV and across the pages of our nation are stories about the victims of the Newtown, CT shooting. It’s heartbreaking enough but every time I look at a show the faces of every adult; reporter, politician, education or mental health professionals, even they who have grappled with some of this nation’s worst disasters, are sad and devastated.
I think that’s because many of us feel responsible for doing nothing, for not fighting harder, for not shrugging off cynicism…or, simply for our acceptance of a world riddled with horrors that inevitably touch our offspring.
I think that responsibility lies heaviest upon our President and it is that which undergirds the tears he could not contain. No one can convince me that having spoken out against gun violence in myriad roles; Father, African-American man, Chicago Community organizer, Senator, and finally as President, that he does not feel a degree of responsibility for not backing up his speech with action.
It is one of the lamentable truths of life that one can’t realistically hope to address all the injustices which plague society. That is as true for Presidents as it is for everyday human beings. Yet, that is part and parcel of the mantle of leadership. For all his exemplary work, that which remains undone must way heavy on his heart.
That is as it should be.
Personally, I don’t blame him for the current state of affairs. Yet many are loudly and vocally doing just that. It’s unfair and disgusting to witness. The propensity to go on a witch hunt when things go wrong is one of the most predictable and unevolved of human responses. He’s president, not God.
Which leads me also to say how interesting it is to see that while many take issue with God’s existence, and use this event as further evidence, none take issue with the presence of Evil.
I believe that we, as a nation, are equally culpable and blame should be apportioned appropriately. If you were not actively fighting for gun violence reform this is the time to take personal accountability and shut the hell up about who hasn’t done what before.
What I do expect is that he will spearhead meaningful gun violence policy reform NOW, confronting inevitable and weighty opposition, as he has on myriad fronts during his term as president. To coin one of his favorite terms, failure to do so should certainly “Not be for lack of trying…”. The tipping point has been reached and the moral implications for the country as we watch these children and their courageous protectors being laid to rest is more than sufficient impetus to address what is a national tragedy…and shame.
It’s way past time for the nation’s officials to be held accountable and I’m heartened to hear the courageous and seemingly heartfelt words of many who have begun to speak out. Still, I am less concerned about what they say than what we demand they do.
Pray for the victims and their families that they can make some sense of this horrible tragedy, that they get the support and strength they need and we finally have the courage to pull together and change this one thing…for all our children.
This beautiful poem, On Children by Kahlil Gibran, was quoted Saturday on the Melissa Harris Perry show:
Your children are not your children.
They are the sons and daughters of Life’s longing for itself.
They come through you but not from you,
And though they are with you yet they belong not to you.
You may give them your love but not your thoughts,
For they have their own thoughts.
You may house their bodies but not their souls,
For their souls dwell in the house of tomorrow,
which you cannot visit, not even in your dreams.
You may strive to be like them,
but seek not to make them like you.
For life goes not backward nor tarries with yesterday.
You are the bows from which your children
as living arrows are sent forth.
The archer sees the mark upon the path of the infinite,
and He bends you with His might
that His arrows may go swift and far.
Let your bending in the archer’s hand be for gladness;
For even as He loves the arrow that flies,
so He loves also the bow that is stable