In the face of tragedy

Another senseless tragedy in our country has everyone reeling again. I don’t consume news media. All of my information comes from Facebook. Maybe that’s pathetic, but I manage to hear about most things anyway.

I don’t need to know the details. The outline is horrific enough.

What I don’t understand is the shock and disbelief evident in so many reactions to this tragedy. Terrible, horrible, sickening, unthinkable things happen in this world every day. Every single day. And they have happened every single day from the beginning of human beings. This is not news. Every single day some horrible monster does something terrible to an innocent child somewhere. Every single day people are murdered. We only hear about the big ones. And not even all the big ones, but just the big ones that happen in our own back yard.

I suppose I should find it heartening that people are still surprised when news like this breaks. I don’t consider myself particularly jaded or despairing, but I am aware that this beautiful life, and the unspeakably precious gift of my children, could be taken from me at any moment in any one of an infinite number of terrible ways. But I try not to let it keep me up at night. Most nights I succeed. When I feel scared, when I the fear of losing my family grips my throat and knots my stomach, I thank God for all that I’ve been given that I do not deserve. One smile from one of my sweet children is more joy than I could dare to hope to experience in this life. I have so very much to be grateful for.

And speaking of God. Everyone wants to know how God could allow such evil to exist. But evil doesn’t exist. Evil is nothing. Just like darkness does not exist, but is merely the absence of light. As cold does not exist, but is merely the absence of heat. Evil is the absence of good. The Good. If you want to rid the world of evil you have to flood it with Good.

And you have to do it every single day. Not just when news of tragedy reaches you. Not just when the big ones are staring you in the face. You have to do good when your child wants your attention while you’re surfing facebook. You have to do good when that jackass cuts you off in traffic. You have to do good when you’re in a hurry at the grocery store.

We aren’t helpless. But it’s not easy either. Now is not the time for hand wringing. Nor is it the time for taking up arms. Now is the time for Love. Every single day. With every single person you encounter. How different this world would be if we all remembered this all the time.

“You say, the times are troublesome, the times are burdensome, the times are miserable. Live rightly and you will change the times.

The times have never hurt anyone. Those who are hurt are human beings; those by whom they are hurt are also human beings. So, change human beings and the times will be changed.”
-Saint Augustine, Sermon 311, 8

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