Last week’s mass shooting of 26 innocent people, including 20 children, at an elementary school in Connecticut has sparked worldwide shock — and understandably so. Nobody deserves to die such a horrific and untimely death, least of all the most innocent and vulnerable among us. The crime is almost too horrific to comprehend.
Having said that, though, children — some of them as innocent and vulnerable as the ones who perished last Friday (Dec. 14) — die almost every day in Gaza, Pakistan, Afghanistan, Mali, the Congo and other far-away places and it barely merits a moment of our attention. Oh, we read about it or see it on the news, and perhaps some of us shake our heads. The perpetrators are equally ruthless and barbaric, and their crimes equally heinous. But hey, it’s halfway around the world and it’s in one of those countries that we can pass off as “war-torn” or at least “unstable.” With a turn of our heads or the click of a mouse, we can turn it off and turn away — unless we have a reason to believe that the suffering of those children halfway around the world affects us.
And it does. It affects us because, as Martin Luther King said, “Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.” Random violence against innocent people, anywhere, has to be the most egregious form of injustice, don’t you think?
We in Canada, though, often find it easiest to relate to our neighbours to the south, because in so many ways, our societies and lifestyles are so similar — we can relate to the horror of the parents whose children were inside Sandy Hook Elementary School that day, because we send our children off to school every day trusting that they’ll come home. We can hardly imagine how we would feel if they didn’t — and yet now, we need only look at the grief-stricken parents of those unfortunate angels of Newtown.
It’s a horrific image to contemplate in the week before Christmas. But we need to confront it — as we do with all such tragedies, anywhere — and offer our support and prayers to those left behind. And we need to hold our children just a little tighter and embrace the words of George Henry Lewes — “The only cure for grief is action.”
— David Burke