It’s been a sad week. First I want to spend a moment acknowledging the sadness of two families whose lives merged in a tragic way this week, with the death of a five-year-old boy who was hit by a car while walking to school with his Mum.
An intersection I walked past every day on my own way to school, where a quiet street meets a busy street. There’s been a big outpouring of community grief – I’ve never seen the equal of this telegraph pole memorial.
It’s too early to say exactly what happened that morning, though the local press has some opinions to share. Reduce the speed limits! More police presence! Stop people double-parking!
Later in the week, we see the school massacre in Newtown, Connecticut, and a knife attack, wounding over 20 children in a school in China. Do we argue with Roger Ebert that it’s the media’s approach to reporting that is to blame: helping troubled kids find someone who will listen, even if it’s too late when they finally do? That works for the US case, but not the China one.
Christian blogger Nathan Campbell has reflected on this, the first US school massacre since he became a father, and using it as an opportunity to think through the problems with the human heart. Are the Christians onto something when they say that there’s a problem with everyone that can’t be fixed?
Elsewhere, there are cartoons trying to make the point that mental health care is much harder to access than firearms, articles listing all the mass shootings in the US since Columbine.
You might have noticed Rupert Murdoch and Malcolm Turnbull interacting on twitter on the subject. It might be obvious to someone from a country with strict gun control that there’s an easy fix to all this, but gun ownership is a much stronger part of American culture than it is here in Australia.
As obvious as it might be to Australians, it’s nowhere near as self-evident across the US. So it seems (as ever) that there’s no easy fix to this particular long-running conflict.
But in the midst of this week’s sadness, let the reader remember, are heartbroken families heading into the Christmas season – a holiday that emphasises family gatherings.
These families that are a little smaller, damaged by loss. And as tempting as a soapbox may appear, it will do little to help. If you have the chance, showing some compassion, and some practical help would be more effective than joining the echo chamber and throwing more mud around: sharing an opinion on who to blame.
For myself, I’ll be praying for the families involved, as they grieve, and that later they might see some hope in the message of Christmas: the start of an earthly life that can transform everything.