Friday, February 16, 2018

The Horror in Parkland Florida

Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, Parkland Florida. Wednesday, February 14, 2018.

Rapid-fire shots blistering through the halls and classrooms from an AR-15 semiautomatic rifle wielded by angry young hands.

Seventeen students and teachers killed. Numerous others wounded. An entire community reeling from the trauma.

Ugh, the horror. The horror of it! Words can't make it go away. Black ribbons, condolences, sorrow, none of it begins to fathom the depths of the ugliness, the evil, the laceration of humanity.

And the tears of parents, brothers, sisters, family, friends: yet another river of tears that runs into a vast ocean of all the tears that have already been shed.

These are evil times we live in. This is a death culture, with its illusions and excess and waste and loneliness, with "freedom" understood as the proliferation of meaningless choices.

By all means, let's make better laws.

Let's remember too that the particularly ugly violence of our times is not new. It's just getting harder to ignore. It's coming out of hiding. It's showing itself in more brazen forms.

It's showing itself in our own hearts. I see it in my heart: I hurt people, mock them, scoff at them, look down upon them. I do this above all to the people who are closest to me.

The horror casts its shadow within me, and its poison is always within reach. Violence is not just a problem in society. It's a problem in me.

And I can't resolve it. I don't have the answer, and I don't know how to extricate myself from complicity in the war that we all wage against one another.

"Non-violence." Is that just another impossible idea? Is that just more useless talk?

But I am convinced that the non-violence of love is greater than the violence of our hearts, of my own heart—not because I grasp this as a theoretical scheme or a social ideology or an imaginative utopian aspiration.

I am convinced because I have encountered love. I have met love in the flesh, and now my heart pleads for the freedom to follow that love, to see the face of that love every day.

Sometimes it's very hard to remember that beautiful face; it seems shrouded in darkness and there is the danger that we will begin to think that we just dreamed the whole thing up.

We must resist this sad sleep. Let's help one another to stay awake and remember.

It is only when I remember the face of love that I myself begin to have the courage to take the risks of love that bridge the abyss of death.