There is really no possibility of writing about anything this weekend other than the school shooting that occurred on Friday in Newtown, Conn.
On the other hand, there is no possibility of writing about the cold-blooded murder of young children in any way that makes sense. Our human psyche, which should be ready for anything based upon the brutal history of our species, still reels in shock and disbelief when pure evil interjects itself into everyday life.
There is no way we can wrap our minds around the horror of what has happened. There is no way to comprehend the dreadful last seconds of the children and adults who were gunned down in a setting that ought to represent the ultimate in safety. There is no way to fathom the lifetime of grief that is ahead for those who are left behind.
I imagine we will endure numerous arguments in the coming weeks about how this could have been avoided. Some of them will involve gun control. Some of them will involve psychology. Some of them will involve prayer.
But the really truly scary conclusion is that this — or something just as horrible, just as wicked — could not have been avoided. We can’t turn schools into armed camps to prevent shootings, and we can’t anticipate all the ways in which evil will harm the world. Evil exists all around us — in the form of slavery, abuse, terrorism, murder. It cannot be avoided. It cannot be palliated. It cannot be cleansed — not by you and me.
I’m sure many of us would have gladly pulled a trigger to kill that madman if we could have saved innocent kindergarteners’ lives by doing so, but we are not given that power — we are not given that godlike knowledge. Instead, we have only the power of limited human understanding, the ability to recognize evil when we encounter it, to fight it if we can, and to put it apart from the good.
And that brings me to my only conclusion — that good also exists. Something does confront and challenge evil in this world, and you can call it goodness or you can call it God, but you had better make sure you know what it is, and that you embrace it with all your heart.
As we enter the Christmas season — and celebrate the life of another man who was murdered without cause — let us try to remember that simple lesson.