Sunday, December 16, 2012

Vulnerability


We owe owe our children- the most vulnerable citizens in any society- a life free from violence and fear.
-Nelson Mandela

I was a television reporter for 13 years. 13 years of tragedy and terror summed up in a minute thirty for the five p.m. newscast, day in and day out. Occasionally there was something fun, something inspiring to report. But usually not. Usually, there was a quote that came up again and again in my work. This is the worst thing ever.

I have carefully avoided the radio, TV and newspapers this weekend. Partially to shield my children from the frightening stories, but mostly for me. I just don’t want to listen to it. I don’t want to read any thoughtful Facebook posts about gun control or parental involvement. I don't need any experts talking about more effective mental health solutions. I don’t want to speculate on motivation and I don’t want to try to write anything to put it perspective. Mostly, I don’t want to feel the pain of those parents. I don’t want to wander if that could ever happen again, or happen near me. I already know the answer. 

I didn’t want to listen to our minister’s inadequate way of addressing it in connection with the spirit of Christmas today at church. This is the same church that we pulled our daughter out of last Spring because we were confronted by a mentally ill woman having a breakdown too close to the wide open doors of the church pre-school. Eventually, we overcame our fear and returned.  The church is next to a park where the majority of our city’s destitute sleep. A church is supposed to feed the hungry, shepherd the lost.  I get it. So today when a homeless man came up to me as if he was an old friend and wanted a hug, I obliged. Dirty with ill fitting clothes, he wanted to talk to me about what happened on Friday. He wanted to talk about the shooter.  “What happened to him to cause his pain?” The man wandered out loud. “It’s too bad he got a hold of a gun,” he continued. I have seen this guy around before. He is hard to forget with his slightly crossed eyes and wild hair. He told me how hard the news of this event has been on him because he is also mentally ill. He went on to say that he is trying to surround himself with peaceful people right now. Was that why he was talking to me? Was he saying that he feared that he was capable of something equally unspeakable? If so, is there anything I can even do about it?

Sometimes, I think it takes faith just to venture out of the house, to put one foot in front of the other and move forward, knowing our vulnerability.


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