Are we there yet?

As I’ve checked out at various grocery stores these past several days I’m continually greeted by the faces of the victims at Sandy Hook Elementary, where they appear on the cover of the most recent issue of  “People” magazine.  Part of me wants to buy this issue just for the cover…to save it, to remind me of these lives lost too soon…lives of people, both young and not so young, who doubtless had much to share with the world.  And another part of me thinks: “Why be reminded of just these people when so many other innocent lives are lost to gun violence, so many people whose faces we never see and whose stories we never hear.”

Is there something that makes the loss of their lives more tragic than the loss of the hundreds, thousands, millions? of lives that are lost in numbers both smaller and larger than those of these people who were killed at Sandy Hook Elementary  not even two weeks ago?  I don’t think so.  I think it comes down to the perception that these people lived in a place that was assumed to be safe, unlike, Iraq, Afghanistan, Syria…anyplace there is war, civil unrest , or even poor or even less affluent neighborhoods in our own country.  They lived where they were supposed to be safe….Add to it that most of the victims were young children….who perceived to be innocent by virtue of their age and thus should never be targeted …even by someone whose mind resides in a place of mental illness or evil.

But there are children and people all over the world, who, by virtue of where they live, in a war or rebellion or poverty torn country or part of town here, end up, on a daily basis, having their lives taken from them.  How many of their faces do we see?  How many of their stories do we hear?  Are their lives of less value because…..they’re not American, or they are not as affluent or they live someplace not as safe?  I wonder, if we saw their faces and heard their stories presented in the same manner, with the same emphasis, on the tragedy of their lives being snuffed out too soon, if we’d become as outraged by the wars and by the poverty that led to the violence that took their lives.  Or are we just generally so shell-shocked and numbed by it all that it takes a violence that “breaks all the rules” so to speak to get and keep our attention enough to where we might finally do something meaningful to address it.  Then again perhaps we already forgetting.  Perhaps our attention is already being drawn elsewhere…

My hope is that enough of us do not become distracted, that enough of us keep our focus on not just the violence that snuffed out the lives of the people at Sandy Hook, but on the violence that takes too many lives every single day.  My hope is that more of us than before are waking from a slumber of denial or overwhelm to take thoughtful and compassionate action towards addressing the many and complex causes of violence.  And it must be an action that begins in our own minds and hearts and ripples outward…That is my hope and my prayer…a mission of Peace.

And one more thing….Interviews with Jean Bolen, feminist and peace activist


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