I’ve been watching the various reactions to the Sandy Hook tragedy on my Facebook, Twitter feed, and in the news with my own mixed feelings. Many people have responded with the appropriate sense of horror, shock, and an overwhelming sense of loss and sympathy for the families of Newtown, Connecticut. Others have taken advantage of the situation to promote their own political and religious agendas. I assume they have done so with honorable intentions.
Perhaps there is a time to discuss causes and solutions from a public policy, cultural-social, religious and spiritual development view point. It is important for a society to protect the most vulnerable among them in the most effective way possible while avoiding overly simplistic solutions that may not solve anything.
But is that time, today? Is that time even this week?
Can’t we instead, mourn with those who mourn, weep with those who weep and respect their loss with appropriate silent solemnity? Can we observe the golden rule? Who wants his or her tragedy turned into a cause célèbre during their time of mourning?
Job’s friends said some pretty foolish things when they tried to “comfort him”—but even they spent seven days and seven nights in silence before him, weeping with him.
My opinion on the solution to these types of tragedies may be worth hearing. I may have very good ideas. Of course, it’s possible my ideas are completely useless and ineffective. But even if I have the best answer to the problem—shouldn’t I pause and respect those in grief?
I remember standing at a graveside years ago while an older preacher spent more time than I might have eulogizing the deceased. But I remember my shock when another older gentleman impatiently muttered, “Why doesn’t he hurry up?” I thought then, “Are your plans and schedules so important that you can’t set aside your agenda just for a little while and mark the moment?”
I respect the opinions of others. Perhaps you have a different point of view from mine and perhaps you can persuade me. But for right now, let’s stop and pause. Let’s observe silence. Let’s mark the moment for those who have had their lives tragically altered forever.