Someone opens fire in a movie theater, indiscriminately spraying bullets into adult and children bodies.
I learn about it because of the outrage splattered across my Facebook wall – mothers horrified at the thought of a child being shot, pastors posting glib phrases about “reminders of the fallenness of mankind” and I wonder… Did you really need reminding?
Because I’m listening to BBC reports coming out of Syria and there are daily reminders of the curse coming from there, if you want them. Children are being shot or starved in overwhelming numbers, next to their mourning mothers. And before Syria, it was somewhere else, and somewhere else, and somewhere else. As if history were nothing but a long, unbroken chain of bloody massacres – large and small.
An African-American teenager is shot by what seems to be one man’s horrifying bigotry. We rally together, blogs are aflame with messages of support for the young man’s family. We swear to see justice done.
And yet every day, you can read the newspaper here in South Asia to find stories of one family killing someone else’s daughter or son because they were from the wrong caste. Ethnic cleansings, religious cleansings – we need very little difference to feel justified in slaughtering by ones and one thousands.
If we mourn for the one – why not the one thousand? Why does the one with a Hollywood resume get tribute after tribute on your Facebook wall while the one thousand go unnoticed and unmentionable?
If we mourn for the one thousand – how will we ever stop? How will we not crumple into a ball of depression and wither into our tears while children die of preventable diseases and fathers are stolen by AIDS? How will we ever walk far enough away to silence the wailing once we have begun to hear it?
Perhaps that is the cruel twist in this story of technology that allows us to hear the plight of the one thousand. It also gives us a way to stop up our ears. To switch to the next iPod track. To, if not silence the wailing, at least force it into the background. We don’t want to let the terrorists win, darn it, and so we must “carry on”. And, after all, a little shopping, new pins on Pinterest, and updating your status about the new recipe you’re cooking does help to lift the mood.
Heaven forbid we stop to truly mourn.
Or is this why we’re given so many gloomy Psalms?
Heaven forbid we allow for a day of silence. Of fasting.
Or is why fasting was often accompanied by sorrowful tearing of clothes, the wearing of desolate sackcloth?
Heaven forbid that we allow the horrifying reality that thousands will die senselessly today – just like they did yesterday and just like they will tomorrow – to change how we live, how we mourn, how we are silent and how we speak.
Or is this why we serve a Savior who showed us how to walk with the suffering and told us that anyone in need – from the one to the one thousand – was our neighbor? Was actually He Himself?