The recent mass killing at a Connecticut elementary school has stirred up matters of controversy, specifically guns and mental illness. Whenever a horrific tragedy occurs in America, our impulse is to offer opinions frequently based upon early information. Historically, differing schools of thinking set up factions that emote fear, anger and a strong belief that something has to change. Generally, fingers point outward, and we assign blame. Someone must suffer for those heinous acts. However, in this event as a recent trend dictates, the perpetrator is dead.
Soon after, the experts in the field of guns and mental illness take center state to educate us about the real problem. What is the real problem? Throughout the course of our short history, America has yet to figure it out. So while this storm of controversy prevails, we debate, argue, intellectualize, rationalize and adamantly adhere to our subjective position. Once the storm abates, then we move on with our lives referencing the recent events with a shrug, a tsk-tsk, or a sorrowful note.
As we approached the end of 2012, including the once foreboding Dec. 21, 2012, date, we looked ahead to 2013. The end of each calendar year is viewed from varying perspectives. Businesses closed out their financial books, politicians went home questionably pleased with their work on behalf of their constituents, students took a much-needed school break, and parents sought wonderful and creative approaches to make the time festive for their families.
One common sentiment offered to the question of ''How are you?'' is ''stressed out.'' A common focus and interpretation of the season for myriad folks is how to live comfortably within their means and yet bring joy to family and friends, via gift giving. Financial stress for many follows, and debt consumes us yet with a smile upon our countenance. The 47 percent even; in fact, many of the 98 or 99 percent internalize and agonize over the cost to feel good. Meals are made and quickly consumed, gifts are received by adoring loved ones and folks take a deep breath as we moved toward 2013 with some satisfaction.
Something is missing! Secular and non-secular clergy frequently speak to a greater force than the aforementioned. Where is our humanity? Where is our individual and collective love and compassion? Fear that we are slowly, gradually losing ground from the time message not merely of the season, alone, also, to conclude the message for each day of our lives.
What is the message? You know, I once read a treatise written by a then international expert on religion. When asked what might be the common denominator, his salient theme to all common religions, he said, ''Be a good person.'' Though each of us may define goodness from our own subjective experience, I believe deep in our hearts, we know!
I'm aware that many share the enjoyment and experience of goodness and compassion. One rainy day, I left my workplace to an appointment. I noticed a woman struggling to walk with her decided limp. I offered to share my umbrella, and she gladly took my arm until we parted at a dry area. She was grateful, and I thanked her for the opportunity to express love. There are no accidents. God provided this moment for both her and me. What a gift. I recall getting my car stuck in a snowbank during a blizzard. Two men drove up and aided me. Also a gift from God ... no accident! There are lessons in both examples for me to learn. I'm constantly challenged in partnership with God to learn about myself.
My church service occasions the singing of the hymn ''Let There Be Peace on Earth.'' I love that song. The first line speaks powerfully to a spirit within us all we may or may not acknowledge. ''Let there be peace on Earth, and let it begin with me.'' Wow! What do you take from that message? What I am in process of learning from that message is vital to my personal growth. Yes, I too am guilty of pointing a finger outward to assign blame. Courage comes from pointing the finger inward. Bad happenings frequently occur to reflect how I/we feel about myself/ourselves - my/our perspective about the world.
Mental illness speaks in the traditionally held belief about hormone imbalance. I am more inclined to believe that those suffering from mental and emotional problems can get unstuck, find joy and love when looking within. That is not to say we beat ourselves up. God is with us at all times. Seek the highest and the best. Feel good about yourself, accept responsibility for misdeeds, learn from them and follow the message God brings to you. It makes for a more growth-producing consciousness rising. Therein lies peace and the love we seek.
Perhaps the young perpetrator of the school killings was mentally ill or challenged. Was there compassion and understanding in his life ... love for him? I do not pretend to have answers. More for another article.