Evil in Texas
Is there anything more painful than parents burying their children? How about children losing both of their parents in the same week? There’s so much pain emanating out of the Uvalde, Texas, Robb Elementary School shooting.
We pray and we offer our aid, but the families who are burying their young children because of a disturbed young man on a rampage are inconsolable. As I write, many questions surround the circumstances of the shooting. But if there is a foolproof way to keep disturbed people from getting guns, I think most people of goodwill would agree we should pursue it. But there’s also something much simpler, and, in theory, much less controversial that we can do right now.
Seek Only What is Good
Pope Benedict XVI once said: “We learn from God to seek only what is good and never what is evil. We learn to look at each other not only with our eyes, but with the eyes of God, which is the gaze of Jesus Christ. A gaze that begins in the heart and does not stop at the surface, that goes beyond appearances and manages to capture the deepest aspirations of the other: waiting to be heard, for caring attention, in a word: love.”
That’s a tall order when we are overwhelmed with so much tragedy and locked in argument over how to prevent it. But we need to try.
The writer Elizabeth Bruenig shared on Twitter a paragraph that she’d had to cut from a recent Atlantic magazine essay, for space reasons. It’s far from throwaway writing, however: “You are a wondrous creation. … You are part of the human family, and humankind is the crown jewel of the known universe. It is good that you are alive, and you should live; it’s good that all of us are alive, here, together, and we should all of us live, and the human race ought to go on … I only want to state what I think we stand to lose if we can’t cure the cultural rot at the heart of American life.”
She’s hit at the problem: Too many people believe that their own lives don’t matter.
Drowning in the Violence of Death
Some of this is a spiritual problem. When we have some understanding that we are made by a loving God, we know there is something greater. We have some gratitude, because our lives are not a given. And we wonder: How can we be good stewards of them? This leads to all sorts of questions, dreams and prayers. But a culture that is so drowning in the violence of death instead of being uplifted by all the good in its midst leads to hopelessness, despair and warped thinking.
Just two days before the latest slaughter, the Catholic magazine Magnificat had a meditation from the British poet Caryll Houselander, who died in 1954, that is hauntingly timely: “Too many anxious Christians today think that their efforts to preach and teach and enter into outward activities can do more to save the world than the surrender of their souls to God, to become Christ-bearers. They believe that they can do more than our Lady did, and they have not time to stop to consider the absurdity of this. … However dark our days seem to be for Christianity, they are not so dark as the night following the crucifixion must have seemed to the apostles.”
The Miracle and Beauty of Existence
Christians will soon mark the feast of Pentecost, a supernatural outpouring of God’s Holy Spirit on the world. If Christians consistently lived as though the Holy Spirit really were still active in everyday life, things would be less unbearable, because we would see the miracle and beauty of existence, no matter how much evil got in the way. I truly believe that the children who were murdered in Texas are now in a better place. Pray for us that we might be as well, and that we do better by the innocents still among us.
Kathryn Jean Lopez is senior fellow at the National Review Institute, editor-at-large of National Review magazine and author of the new book A Year With the Mystics: Visionary Wisdom for Daily Living. She is also chair of Cardinal Dolan’s pro-life commission in New York. She can be contacted at [email protected]