How do any of us cope with senseless violence? How do we avoid becoming desensitized in a society in which some of our films and TV seem to glorify violence? How do we keep perspective about children's video games when a killer played a "game" based on the killings in Columbine?
I happened to be sitting in the first theology class of the year when the news of the shootings reached us (via a student's text message.) (I take one course a semester at Sr. Paul University and hope to continue even as Green Party leader.) I thought, with a new life in politics, that a course in "Moral Existence" was particularly apt.
The professor had just asked how we react to the idea that religious fervor can lead to strapping oneself with explosives and moving to a crowded market. The student with the text message then told us that Dawson College students had been shot, with reports of deaths. I had just been meeting with a wonderful young woman who attends Dawson College on Monday in Montreal. She had won her high school mock-election as a Green Party candidate and wanted to organize a Green Party group on campus. I immediately thought of her and prayed for her safety and for the wounded. Then I felt guilty for thinking of the one person I knew more than the anonymous. That thought struck another student who pointed out people die everyday -- often in violent ways, often too young and too soon. Do we stop in our tracks and grieve and weep every time we hear, he asked?
Should we? There must be some sort of balance to maintain sanity and an ability to live in the world. If we feel every injustice, every tragedy as keenly as if it were someone we knew, we would be immobilized. 55,000 children under five die every day due to a lack of clean drinking water. Feel that keenly and you would never get out of bed to do anything about it.
I think we are obliged as members of the human family to feel something. To care. To pause. To find some way to act. Out of this act of senseless violence, we need to act to ensure it is not possible, not legal, for anyone to buy a semi-automatic weapon. Those guns were not for hunting. They are assault weapons to kill people. They should be banned. In other words, we need to keep the long-gun registry, which the Harper government plans to cancel, and extend and tighten gun control.
I was raised with my grandmother's maxim "Thought without constructive action is demoralizing." I live by James 2:14-17. "...faith by itself, if it has no works, is dead."
We cannot allow ourselves to become inured to pain. We must feel our links to all members of the human family and to all life on earth, those things that crawl and fly. And we must work for a more just
and secure world.
(By the way, my new friend at Dawson College is fine.)