Sunday, March 4, 2018

Wondering Outloud about the Parkland Shooter

A 19-year-old boy killed 17 unsuspecting students and wounded many others.  I grieve for everyone who knew and loved them. 

Since that horrific day, I've participated very little and overheard a lot of conversations about who and what are at fault, who is covering up what and why, and how do we fix it, now and forever.

We would be totally deranged if we weren't in a fervor, and if the discussion didn't start around the gun debate.  It is such an obvious starting place.


But, what about the boy holding the gun?  Was there a time he was innocent, and believed the world was a good place, full of people who loved him, and whom he loved in return?

I don't know, but I suspect there was.  Even for a little while.

"An environment is needed for the flourishing of every kind of life...a living environment, circumstances that will allow the person who wishes to live to breathe, grow, and nourish himself.  If the environment disappears, so does the life..."         Fr. Bernard Bro

If I were some fixture in his room throughout his childhood, I wonder how many times I would have wished I was alive and could go to him, because he was sitting in the corner, crying.  Alone.

I have a friend who has endured much loss, disappointment, and betrayal in her lifetime.  She once described herself as feeling like a set of shelves.  A time came when there was one heartbreak too many and she felt each shelf break in turn, right down the middle.

I believe we have threshholds, and threshholds can be exceeded.  And who knows what after that.

"For most people, the family is the place where one learns to love, or not...We most likely do not learn to love from our school, or from our place of employment, or from our interactions with the government.  Now we might, when we are older, learn a lot about love from our friends or a romantic love.  But at crucial developmental periods prior to adulthood, if we do not come to understand the contents of attentive, secure, sacrificial love from our family, we will likely be impaired in ways difficult, if not impossible, to transcend in the matter of giving and receiving love."
-Helent Alvare, The Family and the Values of Human Life

There are people that I love, who are in my life at this very moment, who feel completely missed in the world they show up in every day.    Unseen, unheard, and unknown.  By all appearances, they are thriving, but they carry devastating, life-altering burdens.

I wonder if a milk carton campaign for the "missing" who live among us would be an effective remedy.  Hey!  That's so-and-so who sits over there every day at lunch by himself.  Hey!  That's my  colleague right down the hall.  Hey!  That's my next door neighbor.  Hey!  That's my son!  Based on the little I know about the boy's life, and the number of times the police were involved over an extended period of time, I believe he was missed.  He is not understood, but he is no longer missing.  He is seen.  But, he will never again be seen as a person worthy of love.  And that is no way to live.

I don't know.  And I'm pretty sure I know less now than when I began typing.  The only thing I know for sure is that tragedy has struck, we must continue living, and we've been given renewed permission and encouragement to wonder aloud.

And I wonder if this sort of thing is what God was referring to in The Dialogue of St. Catherine of Siena, [describing perfected souls living in an imperfect world].  They would "be content to endure anything for My Name's sake; and when an injury is done to someone else, they endure it with compassion for their injured neighbor, and without murmuring against him who caused the injury...

That which thou dost not see thou shouldst not judge in thy mind, even though it may be externally open to mortal sin..."

If you've stayed with me til now, and are up in arms, please know that I am not defending the shooter.  I'm just remembering that bit about environment, and life that flourishes or dies because of it.  And I'm also remembering that God, Author and Distributor of Justice and Mercy, has something to say.  And maybe He's already said it. 

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