Sunday, December 16, 2012

Why May Not Matter, But the Hurt is at the Heart, December 16, 2012

So, I'm finding it even harder than usual to entertain the theory that there is a higher power. Many of us have been searching our hearts and minds over the last few days and coming up with nothing--nothing that makes sense; nothing that quiets the grief.

In the days since a very ill individual ripped away the lives of so many children in Newtown, Connecticut, many of us have been looking for answers to questions that even if answered would not satisfy the hole left behind by this tragedy. And many of us have been arguing over solutions and ways to prevent killings like this one from happening again.

No detailed manifesto or note that Adam Lanza could have written for us would make the pain of this event any less, and knowing why doesn't help. No matter "why" he did this horrible, horrible thing, we can never unknow the horror he left us with. Having the answer to "why" doesn't keep me from being in my car and thinking about what has happened and openly weeping. And for those of us so indirectly affected by this killing field, fathoming the grief of these families and their community is impossible. We barely have a right to be as grief-stricken as many of us are.

I want a child. My husband and I have spent the better part of a year trying to have one. Many of my friends either have young children, or have children on the way. Events like this make you pause. How can anyone in good conscious bring a child into a world where there are people who could do something so horrible?

I have a very strong opinion when it comes to the debate about gun control, but I understand that if someone is so troubled that they want to commit this kind of act, they are going to find a way to do it, no matter what laws are in place.

I don't know what the answers are, but I do know that most of us are starting to feel that we live in a world gone mad, and by mad, I mean angry and filled with hurt.

A couple of my good friends talked about this on their Facebook pages. They talked about how mean spirited we have become as a society, and how media perpetuate this spirit. And with social networking sites like Facebook and Twitter, we all participate in that media now more than ever, no matter how much we might also complain about it.

People have been argumentative and mean for as long as people have been walking the face of the earth. It's at least part of our nature. But before we all had the kind of access we do now, if you wanted to be argumentative with someone, or mean to them, you had to do it in a more personal way--you had to say it to them directly. It's just not that way anymore.

Social media emboldens all of us to say things to and about each other that we otherwise would never say. And I think feeling so emboldened in that way almost makes us feel more emboldened in our everyday lives too. Sometimes, when I think of things people have said to or about me or others, I am just stunned.

It's amazing how a snide remark when you're already having a hard time can quickly knock you down even further. When you're doing the best you can in life, and someone reminds you that it's not enough, it can be hard to feel like trying harder. 

I was picked on throughout my childhood. Elementary and junior high school were the worst.  I wasn't a popular kid, and my parents didn't see the importance of keeping me in trendy clothes. I was kind of studious. I wasn't an ugly kid, but I was probably more than a little awkward at times. I grew up in an abusive household. It was a tough time.

Sure, I never snapped and lashed out in violence, but I hurt a lot, and often. I can't begin to imagine how much that hurt would have been multiplied if I had grown up in this era of Facebook, YouTube and Twitter. Someone like me would have been a target for sure.

The kind of mean-spirited behavior perpetrated these days is disheartening. Kids who already feel like outcasts become the targets of social media attacks that drive them to take their own lives. Bullies little realize or care how their victims feel, and only when something terrible happens does anyone face accountability for their actions. 

Some people might say that making it through tough times should help you develop a thicker skin or character. And for some people, that may actually work. But for others, constantly being attacked with little stabs and pokes is like being torn down every time they try to build themselves up. If it happens often enough, they eventually give up trying. 

But for those individuals who are deeply troubled--mentally ill, the meanness of everyone around them who pokes at them and reminds them of their failure to fit in, that hurt is a ticking time bomb. It's waiting for that moment when all the light goes out, and darkness is all that is left.

I'm going to say something horrible, now. I don't care how much Adam Lanza was hurting, or even why right now. So whatever people did or said to him as his mental illness evolved doesn't even matter to me now. I think it would be very hard to find many people who could muster sympathy  or understanding after what he has done. But, I do care about how easy it is for us all to be the sharp sticks that poke at these sleeping monsters, contributing to their awakening.

When you see someone hurting or struggling, no matter how ridiculous they might seem to you, think of the last time you were hurting and struggling and how much better or worse the actions of others made that situation. Is it so much to ask that we try to reach out to each other with compassion? Is it so much to ask that we try to understand each other and help each other, even if only in small ways?

We have choices everyday. We can be small people committing layer upon layer of small terrorist attacks on each others' hearts, or we can be giant people committing tiny acts of heroism to heal each others' hurts. It may not prevent the kind of heinous acts that people like Adam Lanza commit, but it's surprising how little it can take to "save a life."

If God Will Send His Angels--U2

1 comment:

  1. Very well put, my friend. A question for the ages: How does an all-powerful, benevolent God allow evil? Bullying? Murder? Animal abuse? I could go on. All 3 attributes cannot be said of God, logistically. But belief has a funny way of getting around logic. I'm still an agnostic, though. Epistemologically, I can be believe nothing else. Also, that word makes me sound smart:)