Monday, December 17, 2012


My Two Cents

  Now, before I step on my soap box let me be clear about one thing.  There is nothing about the horrific tragedy that occurred at Sandy Hook Elementary that I’m not saddened, horrified, and outraged over.   NOTHING.  I spend the better part of that day and the next crying, all the while realizing that my tears were futile.  They would change nothing and certainly not provide any comfort to those who were truly in pain.  But I cried nonetheless.  I cried for the loss of innocent lives, I cried for the parents who now suffer with the loss of their child, I cried for the families of the adult victims, I cried for our Nation and I cried for all of humanity.  And the whole time I recognized that my shedding of tears was the same as Nero’s fiddle playing.  Rome is still burning.  I am *not* looking to make any excuses or justifications for those murders, because no matter what anyone else says, to me, there are none.  Period.

**Clearing my throat and stepping on my box**

What happened in Connecticut did not happen because “God let it happen”, nor did it happen because as a Nation we have ‘kicked God out of our schools’.  I would seriously doubt that the parents who lost children last Friday, even those who are religious, would be comforted by the idea that we can blame what happened either on God or on the entire Nation for not being Godly enough.  But, maybe that’s just me.

Let me point out a few things – to bring perspective.  Granted, it’s my perspective, but what the hell did you expect – it’s my freakin’ blog.

Are these modern times dangerous?  Yes, certainly.  They even seem dangerous in ways that we may believe they once were not.  The rise of pedophilia, kidnapping, sex slaves, drugs, weapons, bullying, well a real loss of our humanness seem to be on the rise.  Mental illness, unstable homes, abuse seem to be the normal calling card of more families today than ever before.  Was there never pedophilia, kidnapping, sex slaves, drugs, weapons, mental illness, unstable homes, or abuse in the past?  Of course there were!  To some degree it’s merely a matter of population growth.  There’s more crime because there’s more people.   Now, that only explains some of it.  But in a way, I think the population growth combined with a more fast-paced, technology based society can also explain why we have a society struggling with more mental illness, drugs, weapons, etc.  There are too many of us in too small a space.  Life moves too quickly and there’s too large of a maze to navigate.  We have too many options.  Modern technology has freed us from the drudgery of physical survival and given us a lot more time to focus on ‘are we happy?’  Also, in my personal opinion, we’ve become a much more permissive society and not permissive in the way I would hope – you know like allowing everyone the same equal rights.  The ‘standard of behavior’ in society has deteriorated.  I’d give examples, but if you don’t agree with my statement, examples would be a moot point.

So, was life easier in the old days, especially in regards to raising children?  Sure.  You bet.  In a lot of ways, things were easier.  But, was there less fear?  One cannot overlook all the ways things were harder and scarier than they are now either.  Let’s turn to the turn of the 20th century and take a peek of what life was like for children.

At the turn of the 20th century, the Infant Mortality Rate was more than 100 per 1000 live births.  Today that number as been reduced to less than 10 per 1000.  There were no child labor laws protecting children until 1938, and even then young children were ‘permitted’ to work in conditions that today, in this country, we would find reprehensible.  In the late 1800s and early 1900s - before the development of antibiotics and disease-specific vaccines - parents feared a wide variety of childhood diseases: measles, mumps, smallpox, chickenpox, diphtheria, whooping cough, scarlet fever, poliomyelitis and more. In 1900, 61 percent of the children who died in America perished from communicable diseases. These diseases would often strike with a speed and virulence that seems amazing to us today.  In 1900, nearly 165 of every 1,000 children born in America died before their first birthday (in some cities this number was as high as 300). If they survived infancy, children still had to fight to survive: at the turn of the century, 20 percent of the nation's children died before the age of ten. Most were victims of contaminated water, unsanitary living conditions, unpasteurized milk and poor nutrition, as well as contagious diseases.  Almost all families experienced the death of two, three, or more of their children.  There was disease, famine, poverty, abandonment, drug use, and sexual deviance.


Another interesting aspect that I found while doing a little research was that there is evidence to suggest that many parents who had strong religious convictions struggled with their faith when faced with the pending death of their child.  Basically, they questioned God.  Where was God while their child lay suffering and dying?  Sound familiar?  Where was God when the madman entered that Connecticut school?  To say that He wasn’t there because we don’t allow Him to be makes no sense to me.  If one has a belief in God, or higher power of any other name, is that higher power not big enough, not strong enough, and not capable enough to be wherever He needs or wants to be?  For someone to say  that we, as American citizens, are capable of keeping God out of a place where innocence gathers sounds to me like someone thinks they are bigger than God.  And it lays blame at the wrong door.

There is no sense we can make out of what happened last week in Connecticut, or earlier in the week in Oregon, or early this year in Aurora, CO.  We still haven’t learned to make any sense out of what happened 15 years ago at Columbine.  In one way, I hope we will never make sense out of it.  I don’t want to ever ‘understand’ how someone could do what those criminals did.  I explain it to myself, and to Punky, this way:  There are sick, insane, and evil people in the world who are broken.  Maybe they were born broken, or maybe something happened to them in their life that broke them.  Maybe people tried to help fix them and couldn’t, or maybe no one ever tried to help fix them.  These sick, evil people reach a point where they can’t control their crazy or their evil and they seek to destroy themselves.  Because they are so angry, so insane, or so evil they make sure they harm as many people as possible before they leave these world.

That’s it.  That’s all I have to offer Punky.  When she asked, “Did God allow this to happen?” I tell her “No.”  Not the God I believe in, anyway.  My God is not a vengeful God and would not task a human with killing innocents, especially children.  “Did this happen because people don’t believe in God?” she asks.  “No.  God knows the deal and He doesn’t need people to believe in Him to still be God.”  “It’s so sad that these children died alone,” Punky says later.  “Yes,” I say, “it is very sad that they had to leave this world without their Mommy or Daddy by their side to hold their hand.  But I don't believe they died alone.  God was with them in that moment – that little voice in their hearts comforting them as they crossed over to begin the next journey.”  “Do you think God was with the man who murdered those children?” she then asks.  “Yes, I do.  I think he was the voice whispering to that man’s heart ‘Don’t do this.’ Unfortunately, that man didn’t listen.”

If you have no faith in God, or whatever name for a higher power others may have, that is fine, of course.  If your religious belief teaches you differently than I believe, that is also fine.  This is how I am helping Punky, and myself, through this tragedy.  And it chaps my ass to hear people blame God or blame a nation of grieving people that this happened because we ‘don’t let’ God in the schools.  

At the end of the day, I tell Punky, “All we can do is be a force for good. We must live our lives in such a way that our light can shine. We must not allow ourselves to get tripped up by negative or evil people of the world who only want to tear things apart or try to bring people down. We must rise up and be positive by spreading love, compassion, kindness, and forgiveness to help build up others so that they have the ability to do the same. That is the difference we can each make in our world and we can make it every day.”



 ~Mari B.


  1. This is a post written by my sister who has worked in our educational system for many years. Whatever creator/belief system we have in our hearts are not left at the doors of a building as we enter it just as they are not found in a building some go to on Sundays.

    There are so many opinions being expressed right now about our society, guns, schools, god... The one that strikes me as strange is that God is not in schools. Why is it that because we can't pray in schools everyone thinks there is no God there? God and love and respect for our creator is brought into schools EVERYDAY by the people who work there. Schools are populated by many kinds of Christians, Muslims, Bahai's, Buddhists, Hindus, Daoists, and others I have not named. I have been in MANY schools. I see signs at the door that say we are a no-smoking environment, but I have never seen a sign that says we are a no-God environment. I have never heard in ANY meeting with teachers that we are supposed to check our beliefs at the door. It is true that we are not supposed to teach or forward our personal beliefs, (and most parents would not want that to happen) but how can it be that those beliefs and love of creator do not drive every decision that we make and action we take? A school employee that throws him or herself in front of children can not be said to be in a place where God is absent.

    1. I agree. And such a point of clarification on my end - I also don't believe that folks who do not believe in a higher power are immoral. I know plenty of atheists who are public school teachers and they are moral, compassionate, and loving. Since I believe that the Creator looks at our hearts - how we treat each other matters.


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