Monday, December 17, 2012

Words of Comfort After Connecticut Shootings

Mr. Fred Rogers
In the wake of the elementary school shootings in Connecticut, people of all faiths are looking to their religious leaders for words of comfort. I often look to Kim Lee, a director at South Mecklenburg Presbyterian Church in Charlotte, NC for help in understanding how to provide words of wisdom to my children regarding daily life - and in the aftermath of tragic events and disasters.

Kim says this of a character very familiar to my generation:
Of all the articles and blogs I have read, stories I have heard, and professionals I have listened to over these past few days, I have found Fred Rogers's words to be the most comforting and hopeful:
When I was a boy and I would see scary things in the news, my mother would say to me, Look for the helpers. You will always find people who are helping. To this day, especially in times of disaster, I remember my mother's words and I am always comforted by realizing that there are still so many helpers, so many caring people in this world.
Strikingly, this suggestion is mirrored in the next verses of Psalm 63: So I have looked upon you in the sanctuary, beholding your power and glory. Because your steadfast love is better than life... (verses 2 and 3). So we look upon God. Where do we see God and God's power and glory? In the helpers at Sandy Hook Elementary School: the teachers, the school psychologist, the principal, the firefighters, doctors, police officers, ambulance drivers, clergy, neighbors, friends and family, everyone and anyone who offered to help.
Look for the helpers. Look for the good in people.

I remember trying to cope with the events of September 11. I was a young adult, but looking back I felt more like a child - searching, trying to understand, looking to older adults for comfort. I heard a prominent, local church leader give a radio address. I don't remember his name, but I remember his words. He, too, had been looking for words of comfort from his elders when the world looked so bleak, and his father had told him to remember that no matter what, the sun will rise tomorrow.

The sun will rise tomorrow, and we need to move forward. President Obama said in his interfaith prayer service in Newtown last night, the causes of mass violence are "complex." And they are. But rather than waste time arguing about which causes should be addressed first, let's just do something. Whether it be changes to gun control laws, mental health care, or stricter regulations on media violence, we should make an effort. It's time to take action before more children, parents and loved ones get hurt in senseless mass violence. I hope we don't waste a single day.

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