Saturday, December 15, 2012
NEWTOWN: THE AMERICAN WAY?
Over the past two days the world’s media remains filled with the constant re-telling of the horror which has taken place in Newtown Connecticut.
Mostly on the American networks, but also on those from various other countries, the highly emotional argument for and against the American constitutional right to bears arms, the whole issue of guns and violence, unfolds apace with this latest horror, the more horrific since the majority of the victims are little children and their shattered families.
The Governor of the state rightly said evil had visited his state.
Unfortunately, as we all know evil, is never a mere visitor in human life, rather a persistently unwelcome guest that earlier generations of the human family, even before the advent of Christianity, was recognized and faced.
It seems, in our day, we either refuse to face and name evil and overcome it, or we deny evil exists by cloaking it with some presumed right such as the right to kill an unborn child without the same reaction as killing a child already in school.
Walker Percy, though not speaking directly about human on human violence, in his book “Lost in the Cosmos” points to the real evil, the real malaise behind the 21st century blood letting, irrespective of more remote causes such as mental illness, political grievance, resistance to oppression, religious or tribal justifications, and indeed points to the reason why the most dangerous place on earth for any child remains the womb and the most vile weapons on earth are those used by abortionists: Percy writes in part that “….by virtue of its peculiar relationship to the world, to others, and to its own organism, the autonomous self in a modern technological society is possessed. It is possessed by the spirit of the erotic and the secret love of violence.”
If we look deeply into our hearts and souls, with humility and honesty, we will discover the chaos and heartache, the breakdown of the family, the systematic attacks by the media on those who adhere to their Christian faith; the proliferation of all in movies, tv, computer games that are eating away at the culture of life like a cancer, have roots in our own approach to life.
It is not a question of argument, finger pointing, judging others.
It is a question of am I, or am I not, in such a profound relationship with Jesus and the Gospel of Life that I am willing, no matter the cost, to preach the Gospel with my life without compromise?
Percy goes on, drawing from John Cheever, noting that nowadays the “..main emotion of the adult…is disappointment.”
Percy enumerates some of the disappointment and comments on each. Here I will simply enumerate them: “Work is disappointment…Marriage and family life are disappointing….School is disappointing…Politics is disappointing…The churches are disappointing…Social life is disappointing.”
Though Percy does not do so, I will add here that for many, many people the ultimate disappointment is with God!
After all where is God when a massacre occurs?
Since World War II most of the West, but even in their own way the former countries of the Soviet Union, certainly in their own way still China and Cuba, and those perhaps not as successfully, and only for those with an iron grip over their fellow citizens, in some Middle Eastern and African countries, throughout the world we have developed cultures of entitlement to such an extreme that common sense is ground into the dust and a pervasive malaise poisons hearts, minds and souls.
We have become, as human beings, infantile whiners who eschew responsibility in favour of ‘my’ rights with the emphasis on ‘my’ even when cloaked with the veneer of some social purpose; we are materialists with insatiable appetites for the useless which fail to amuse us and enhance our disappointment and malaise to the extent divorce outstrips marriage, non-marital co-habitation, with its internal menu of orientations, risks becoming the norm and children, when not aborted as inconvenient become, and not just for those couples whose orientation guarantees infertility, another ‘item’ on the ‘must have’ list.
The discussion we should be having as human beings, especially as Christians, and not just in the United States but throughout the world, is not about guns, not about mental illness, in a word not about remote or spurious cause and effect, but about the “I” and “Thou” of life.
The real moral issue is about personhood in the redeemed image and likeness of God.
Personhood as in I, disciple of Christ, see and relate to thou who are one like myself: person in His image and likeness.
The disappointed self is, as Percy rightly enumerates, disappointed in everything and everyone around and thus, I stress, becomes famished for meaning and since unless we know Jesus we remain incomprehensible to ourselves, this incomprehensibility becomes a frenzied search resulting in the social chaos, greed, violence, hatred, anger which engulfs the entire human family.
I find it poignant and a caution that it was in the main children, about the age Christ Himself was at the time, who were massacred yesterday as were children massacred by Herod’s soldiers seeking to destroy the One who alone can give meaning to human existence.
We honour the Christ Child by celebrating His birth.
Let us honour the children of Newtown by re-discovering, by becoming anew who we are as persons in the image and likeness of God and let us begin anew to live as real people.