Angel of Grief by Timothy Valentine, Creative Commons
Yesterday I wrote that I had no words, only prayers and mourning for the victims of the shooting in Colorado.
That wasn’t entirely true. As I watched my Twitter feed scroll by, as I browsed through Facebook, as I read comments at blog posts like this one (Rachel Held Evans’ painful yet beautiful post about grieving together), I found that I had many, many words.
Sterile, unhelpful words about the effectiveness of various gun control measures and the appropriateness of bringing politics up so soon.
Resentful, self-righteous words about the massive outpouring of public grief at the death of 20 American children and the collective silence and apathy over the death of 170 Pakistani and Yemeni children at the hands of our Predator drones.
Suspicious, disbelieving words about the President being overcome by emotion at the death of children, despite his culpability in the drone strikes.
Cynical, jaded words speculating as to just what rhetorical use politicians, preachers, and media personalities will put this to.
None of these words is worthy. None of these words is righteous. These words must not be said, must not be written, while the blood is still fresh, the wounds are still raw, and the bulk of the details are still unknown.
And being right is never an excuse for using someone else’s tragedy as a soapbox. They did not live and die so you or I could hammer our righteous talking points home. The killer already mortally assaulted their humanity. We should not further degrade it.
And so I urge you to cast aside these words, or at least defer them. Take time to respect and share in the victims’ grief. Compassionately suffer with them.
If you can, imagine the inner torment of the killer. Consider what forces, psychological or spiritual, may have driven him to such violent, murderous madness.
Listen, and experience the sorrow. Don’t think about what you’re going to say next. And forgive those who fail to do the same. Please forgive me if I fail.
And pray, please pray.