A terrible, tragic thing has happened in the United States – a school shooting in Newtown, Connecticut. Almost thirty individuals were killed by a merciless gunman. Teachers died defending their students. A community was shattered by grief.
Yet the greater tragedy is that the media and politicians are often enough not viewing this through the lens of pity, compassion and empathy but as a bullet-point in a debate. The very first articles I saw in the media seemed almost excited, saying things like “if the death toll holds up” as if we should hope that it would. “The biggest shooting of the year, what an exciting event!” the articles seemed to say, with their in-depth profile of the shooter and unfolding, live updates on the shooting.
And right from the very first articles, it seemed that many people were determined to exploit this to push their own personal crusade. “Stricter gun laws!” were the media reactions, before anyone had a chance to analyse the situation. “Ban violent video games!” came the call from others, before anyone had even determined whether or not video games had been a factor. I just got an email from some Christian agency, explaining how divorce needs to be stopped and is a primary factor in the situation.
Can’t people slow down? Yes, people want this situation to be prevented, in the future. But people don’t need knee-jerk reactions based in someone else’s preconceived opinion. What people need least of all is people exploiting this tragedy for personal gain. Sit back. Maybe spend some time figuring out what particularly caused this the situation and what needs to be fixed rather than jumping to conclusions. Stop trying to think of how this shooting will play into the hands of the point of public policy you’re trying to make.
Maybe then you’ll have some time to truly care for the families devastated by this shooting, the families who need it the most and will have a tough time ahead of themselves. Think of the families who will be sitting at home with unopened gifts around their tree, and pray for them or provide for them. Mourn the dead. Wait for a full picture before you start pushing “solutions.”
And then, pull yourself out of your first-world bubble and look to see that this one tragic event in the United States is simply one in a sea of tragedy present in the world today. We may not be able to fix everything that’s wrong in the world, and certainly there is much hope, but we ought to be aware.
We’re just a short time away now from celebrating the birth of one who will return one day, not as a baby like He did 2000 years ago, but as a judge. He’ll judge the living and the dead, and usher those who believe in Him and follow Him to paradise. But 2000 years ago, he came to earth as a baby – the very least of us – and suffered as we often suffer. In His birth, we know that we have a saviour who knows our pain. He is with us – and those families – this holiday.