A dark day for us all

A dark day for us all

Nineteen children aged between seven and ten, and two adults, shot to death by an eighteen year old who was deemed too young to order an alcoholic drink but old enough to buy and use lethal weapons of life-destroying capability. The lunacy of such a legal system passes understanding. Well, it does until you realise that dollars are worth more than children’s lives, siblings’ loves and parents’ devotion. And when Senator Cruz, financed, I am told, by the gun lobby, suggests that the solution is for law enforcement officers to hunt down and prosecute the mentally deranged, you do have to wonder exactly who he means by “mentally deranged”. But the issue is not only a matter of mass shootings in the USA.

During WWII, when at Mass on Sunday, I used to wonder if God had lost his reason. I was nine years old. Bombs pelted down from the skies during the nights, killing friends and neighbours, destroying buildings of great beauty, laying bare the landscape for mile after mile. At my lessons during the week I was assured that God had made humankind in his own image, not in the image of the animals who fought each other for space and food. He was infinitely powerful, I was told, and yet he seemed to permit rapacious battle for supremacy and often allowed the wicked to defeat the good.

My belief in the supreme intellect of humans drifted away with the advent of the mass media and the incorporation of lies into the system of reporting news to the world. By itself this would have been irritating but colourful. Unfortunately stronger elements came into play – the ability to make very loud noises, to explode ever nastier bombs, to slip pictures of indescribable callousness past the censor – and, in the end, the dismissal of the censor altogether. Parents were encouraged to bring up their children nicely. Many of those that could read did so. Declining literacy for the rest meant that vulgarity and crime became the children’s stories of today. As President Zelenskyy said “I don’t understand the war”.

A change in the United States gun laws would, if enforced, reduce the incidence of mass murder of innocents. That alone would be good enough reason for it. It would not solve the problem of a world – approaching ten billion people – living together peacefully. What is needed is a code of conduct that encompasses our now extensive knowledge about the earth and humankind, that does not require belief in the unprovable and that truly reflects the wisdom of UNITED Nations. Are there any organisations effectively preparing this? If so, please let me know. I want to support them. Is there any Education System with worldwide influence attempting to do this? If there is, why don’t we know about it?

For now, we can only pray. Prayer does not require a religion, or a belief in this or that God. It requires only that we care for others, for all others, and that we devote some of our wealth to the protection of those who cannot protect themselves. Shame on those who don’t agree with this. Shame on those too lazy to try.

And may those who suffered loss and injury in this latest United States massacre feel a gentle hand on their arm. For whether God or not, one thing is certain:

He has no hands but only our hands.

John Bittleston