I am stunned and heartbroken by the shootings last week at Sandy Hook Elementary School, near Newtown, Connecticut. Twenty children, ages four to ten, lost their lives.
I am deeply grieved by the suggestion, voiced by some of our nation’s religious leaders, that this tragedy happened because God was not there. Such an atrocious idea is patently false. It is an anathema to the God who is love, creates us in love, and moves in and through the world in love. God mourns, weeps, and surrounds Newtown with God’s presence at this very moment.
I am equally saddened by the notion that the death of children “is the price we pay for freedom.” The men and women who fought and died for our freedom over the last 236 years paid the ultimate price for the American ideal of a free and peaceful country. They did not sacrifice their lives so we could stockpile weapons of mass destruction in our homes, nor inflict carnage on innocent civilians.
If the murder of Emmett Till changed the face of the Civil Rights movement, let us courageously suggest that the twenty children massacred in Connecticut changed the face of the fight for gun control in the United States. Just as the racist judicial machine in Mississippi failed to justify Till’s death, nor deter his mother’s courage, let us not allow these equally-dangerous ideas to explain away this tragedy, nor sway our determination to make the changes we know we must.
It is time for a change. That time is now.
M B H