This world in which we live becomes all the more distressing with each passing day. Friday morning twenty children and six adults were shot in cold blood in an elementary school. This kind of tragedy is horrific and beyond human comprehension. It is the most unthinkable of evils being perpetrated on the most unsuspecting and innocent. What the parents and families of those deceased must be going through is more devastating then words can describe.
The small, idyllic community of Newtown, CT has become a hotbed of media attention, overtaken by swarms of news reporters, TV cameras, journalists and ambulance chasers. Not to mention the investigation teams and federal officials who are now burdened with the task of trying to make sense of the senseless. Every news station is a non-stop reel of videotape that shows kids being escorted from their school building with looks of confusion and terror, parents pacing in the parking lots of news conferences and families holding on to each other for dear life.
Where have we seen this before?
The days following the Aurora, Colorado movie theater shooting, the days following the shooting in Tuscon, Arizonia that shot a House of Representatives member, the weeks after September 11th, and the days after the Virginia Tech school shooting. Each produced similar results: mourning painfully displayed on every TV station, magazine cover, newspaper article and internet post. The grief and pain is shown in brilliant color for all to see. But what can any of the viewers or readers do? Can we comfort these people or lend some kind of emotional support? Other than prayer, we are at a loss. We have nothing to offer and nothing to give. These people don't need or want our money. They want their children back. They want their husband, wives, brothers and sisters back. Yet, with each tragedy comes another media storm and we all watch in numb frustration. We have seen it before and the utter devastation of the evil is undeniable. Yet we become immune to the true pain it is causing because it feels like a repeat of the last tragedy.
I don't mean to sound callous or insensitive. What happened yesterday and in all the other cases of mass killings is beyond horrific and tragic. I cannot even comprehend the loss each and every one of those families is dealing with. Death is never easy, especially when it is unexpected and especially when it befalls the innocent by violent means. Everyone, it seems, questions why and how? How could someone do something so evil? Why did this happen and how could it be avoided in the future?
While I ponder these questions like most, I have a whole other set of questions rattling around in my mind. Such as, why are we surprised that this has happened? Just look at our culture. We have taken the act of an abortion and made it into a simple choice, a realistic and acceptable option in the course of a pregnancy. We have deemed the taking of innocent life in the womb as nothing more than a woman's right to make a decision, yet the killing of children out of the womb is a tragedy. We are right to call the killing of those kids a tragedy, don't misunderstand me. But we are wrong to assume that the ending of life in the womb isn't just as tragic. It is a travesty that is being carried out across America each and every day. Over a million abortions are performed in the US alone every year. Where is the outcry over such a massive loss of life? Where is the mourning for each child that never got the chance to even begin kindergarten in the first place?
The value of life is not ours to pick and choose. We cannot decide that just because we can't see and hold a baby it does not have value. That is not ours to determine. If God has given life it is never ours to take away. Most people realize and believe this when they can see, touch and feel the person in front of them. Somehow, when that person is still in the comfort and security of its mother's womb many people struggle to see the value of the miracle being formed. Millions of people don't see that the human being that is growing every day in the womb is actually a living being. They want to devalue the life by calling it a "fetus." But it is not some alien being that deserves a foreign name. It is a person with lungs, kidneys, fingers, toes, skin and physical characteristics totally and completely unique to that special and precious child. Someday, if given the chance, that child will go into the world and attend school, make friends, be in the Christmas play, learn to read and play on the playground. That isn't a fetus. That is a child in the earliest stages of development. That stage isn't unlike all the stages to come. The only difference is this: the earliest stage of development happens in the comforting and protective environment of a mother's womb.
But one million + babies will never get to develop any further. Their lives will be cut short by the choosing of the one person who is supposed to protect and nurture them at this critical time. Their mother will allow their life to be cut short.
We condemn with rage and anger the actions of a gunman who bursts into a crowded school, taking the life of the innocent, yet we protect the mother who ends the life of a baby in her care. How do these two coexist? How can we have a world where we pick and choose when life is precious and when it is disposable?
The answer is this: when we, as a nation, decide that we hold the value of life in our own hands, we devalue it greatly. We take something sacred and make it a matter of opinion, just another matter to be legislated and debated. It takes a work of God and makes it a work of man. And what man creates, he has no trouble destroying. But what God creates and sanctions is holy and sacred. When that is the value put on life we will see a world much different, and far greater, then the world we see now.