Thank you for crossing my blog and making the choice to write me a wonderful personal note. According to your email, you were hoping for a Valentine’s Day message. Well, blew it. Missed it. Sorry.
On a personal note, like many, I struggled with a burdened heart. As Christians know, Ash Wednesday is a Christian holy day for peace. Yet, none of us received peace. In the wake of Florida’s shooting, I would not expect any major legislative progress. As many know, Congress has been largely ineffective in passing any meaningful legislation since the 2012 Sandy Hook shooting where 20 young children and six adult staff members lost their lives.
February 9th, I wrote an email to a personal friend that pondered a lunch conversation driving back home. I reflected on not only our conversation, but the musings of author Kate Bowler, as she progressed through her cancer diagnosis. Trust me, I will tie these together.
So, I can relate to Bowler’s comments:
“…. a neighbor knocked on our door to tell my husband that everything happens for a reason.”
“I’d love to hear it,” my husband said.
“Pardon?” she said, startled.
“I’d love to hear the reason my wife is dying,” he said, in that sweet and sour way he has.
I know there’s some idiot out there, who responded to the Florida victims with trite, “It’s part of a larger plan.”
For you L&H, I’ll update parts of my friend’s email. I believe the message is timely. In times of tribulation, many of us have received comments from the well intentioned, some are bizarre, others rude. I include some comments as well as my immediate inner thought response (outlined in parentheses).
- “It’ll be okay, I just know it.” (Really? That’s great. Tell me how you know?)
- “Someday this will all be behind you.” (Nope. For many, this event will always be in the forefront.)
- “Don’t worry, things will get better.” (This does not get better).
- “So when will you be all better?” (Hmm, like I said, does not get better.)
- “Live in the moment.” “Be strong.” “Fight hard.” “Keep your chin up.” “Don’t give up.” “Attitude is everything.” (I will remember this when I can barely breathe.)
- “We’ll pray for a miracle.” (God has risen only two people from the dead. I don’t see it happening in Florida.)
- “Could be worse.” (Just did. Listening to you confirms it just got worse.)
And the coup de gras of all statements:
- “Everything happens for a reason.”
- “It’s all part of a larger plan.”
To this, I remind myself of Rabbi Brad Hirschfield’s comments from “Faith and Doubt at Ground Zero:”
You want plan? Then tell me about plan. But if you’re going to tell me about how the plan saved you, you better also be able to explain how the plan killed them. And the test of that has nothing to do with saying it in your synagogue or your church. The test of that has to do with going and saying it to the person who just buried someone and look in their eyes and tell them God’s plan was to blow your loved one apart. Look at them and tell them that God’s plan was that their children should go to bed every night for the rest of their lives without a parent. And if you can say that, well, at least you’re honest. I don’t worship the same God, but that at least has integrity.
It’s just it’s too easy. That’s my problem with the answer. Not that I think they’re being inauthentic when people say it or being dishonest, it’s just too damn easy. It’s easy because it gets God off the hook. And it’s easy because it gets their religious beliefs off the hook. And right now, everything is on the hook.
I sympathize with all the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School victims and seriously injured. For them everything’s on the hook.
Yet, several days post incident, I believe there is a sense of hope. First, the real message is to focus on how you treat one another, how you treat yourself, the value of human life. Second, like students who power-packed a rally in Fort Lauderdale on Saturday, all of us need to make impassioned pleas for legislation to regulate guns. “We will be the last mass shooting,” Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School student Emma Gonzalez declared to wild cheers.
Emma Gonzalez is declaring that we must get angry. We need to be angry: angry at our lawmakers for doing so little to prevent these catastrophes; angry at our news and entertainment media for simultaneously feeding off these tragedies and fueling them with a steady stream of sensationalism and moral incoherence; angry at ourselves for perversely tolerating these things, and then forgetting them until the next round of violence.
As you know, I believe in many things. I believe in Emma Gonzalez. I believe you T&H. May you become the snapshot of change, archive each moment, and live it. And In all things, know that I have faith in you.