Yes, I am aware that I stole Dan's slot yesterday, and I am now using my normal slot this week -- the bad news for you is that I will also steal Dan's slot tomorrow and then post a final time on Friday. You are stuck with me this week like gum on the bottom of your sneaker.
As I page through the stories about the tragedy at Sandy Hook, this one stands out to me as the current conventional wisdom (even if it got the shooters name wrong). In it, we find this observation by one of the locals:
At St. John’s Episcopal Church, 54-year-old Donna Denner, an art teacher at an elementary school in nearby Danbury whose classroom was locked down after the shooting, said she feels the same way she did after 9/11 but isn’t sure the rest of the country does.
“I don’t know if the rest of the country is struggling to understand it the same way we are here,” she said. “Life goes on, but you’re not the same. Is the rest of the country — are they going about their regular activities? Is it just another news story to them?”Now, let's not run this woman over for her grief at the loss, the violence, and the invasiveness of what happened near her. She lives in close proximity to a lunatic shooting spree. What has happened to her and to everyone within driving distance of the Dunkin Donuts in Newtown is a moral and civil transgression of what we think is the natural and safe state of our own homes and lives. It is to our credit, in a Romans 2 way, that we believe we actually live in a peaceful society.
See: what has actually happened here is not that the unthinkable has occured. It is that the unthinkable has happened to us. On the exact same day this tragedy took place, for example, exactly half-way around the world in China 22 children were knifed
My point is not to minimize the death of these children, or make you fear the hospital: it is to open your eyes to the fact that the natural state of the world is not safe and secure. The natural state of the world -- the way it really is all around us every day and we simply overlook it -- is that it is a deadly and dangerous place.
See: the natural state of things is that people die all the time due to no direct fault of their own. Families are left fatherless or motherless -- or both. The oldest child, or only child, is safe on the rainy night driving home from work and is killed the next night when she went to the convenience store for milk and a drunk ignored the red light. The fellow in the locker next to you at work doesn't realize the safety on the overhead crane is broken, and you have to explain it to the OSHA investigator because you pulled him out from under it, too late.
But here's the thing: this does not spoil Christmas. It in no way denigrates Christmas, or makes Christmas a joke. This fact makes Christmas necessary.
We'll consider why tomorrow.