The handprint of a ten year old is small, smooth to perfection, and large enough to wrap neatly into larger hands, to be held and guided, nurtured and aligned. Uvlade has resurrected the heartbreak of Sandy Hook and re-opened debates about gun control, safety in schools and the red flags of mental illness. The rhetoric can mask grief and defy fear; after all the incdents of the past ten years, it has not resoluted in effective action. It has not been able to answer the question, “What would work to solve this problem?” or even “What are the causes of this? What is actually happening? How can we change this trajectory?”
A coherent clarity would be more than welcome, and heated debates over the NRA nd gun control suggest that. It is as if resolving the contentious issue would put an end to the tragedies America is enduring. The circumstances are extraordinarily complex and acknowledging that may open unexpected solutions. First, there is the rapid social and technological change that has shaped this millennium and all traversing through it. Social shifts have dislodged a reverence for spaces once considered sacred: churches and schools. Others, once defined by their purpose, have not been inviolate. Movie theaters, concerts and supermarkets,polics stations have become stages for violence rather than venues for entertainment and leisure, sustenance and stability. The shifts reflect the skeptcism of loss of confidence in social insitituions. Language has known shifts as well: once private terms hemming emotions have blasted into routine daily usage. Accompanying the onslaught of acronyms and emoticans has generated divisions between age and interst groups. Vocabulary has grown powerful; even the word “carnage” has crept into the vernacular as mass shootings become more frequent.
These changes have occurred in a time when technology has granted new voice to the marginalized and is postioned to democratize American society. Individuals possess a formerly unattainable measure of influence and/or notoriety. Split seconds separate events from international publicity and highlight the intensity of news events that years ago were buried in newspapers. Spiking anxiety and stress heighten grief and drama, spill into and shape reactions, increase tensions, furstrations and fury.
There are heartbreaking searches for answers. The answers have remained cruelly elusive; perhaps they are hidden in the whole of who we actually are and what is actually happening within lives and culture. There are moments to take that step back, to breath deeply, and to realize that each of us has such a need for the other and others to actually become whole. We need one another. We need to believe in one another, in mutual respect, in the idea that life has real value and thoughtfully living matters. There are those moments when the prayer Jesus uttered, “that they all may be one” , can become real.
The very brevity of life is a keen reminder that time is precious, a commodity and a gift. How we live that time matters. Believing matters. Becoming one matters. It just might make a difference.