February 26, 2024
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I’d promised myself not to write this particular column. But it’s a promise I found that I could not keep.

Like anyone who has a heart and who has heard of the murders at the school in Uvalde, Texas, my heart is breaking. That kind of evil takes our breath away.

Of course, the national media seem to have plenty of breath, plenty of bandwidth, and plenty of ink available. And, of course, they have to report it. But I’m not convinced that wallowing in it is necessary.

Many of them are not shy about crossing over from “reporting” to using this atrocity to further their own political ideas. Both left and right are masters at manipulation. And we, both right and left, are, oh, so, willing to be manipulated. By the national media. By political parties. By our favorite politicians. Both “sides.”

And so, far right or far left, the loudest voices with the least real courage and fewest actual ideas hold sway. Since we’d very much like to live in a world where complex problems have simple answers, we lap up mis-leaders’ lies like a cat chugging antifreeze.

We chug on even when a teenager with a heart already incredibly twisted by evil methodically kills 21 precious people, mostly little folks, the kind whose lives give us light and joy and hope whenever we’re around them. How dark it seems when that light is, at least in this world, extinguished.

Can you imagine the depth of evil necessary to do what the murderer did over and over again? I don’t want to mention his name. (His first name is a sad mockery.) I know that God loved him and will be the One who deals with him, and, honestly, I’m glad we don’t have to. I pray for all of the many—the ripples of this blood-bath are far-extending and certainly include those who loved him—who have been and are being devastated by his wicked decision.

Lessons need to be learned, but I can’t help by adding much to the too many words already being cast about. That part is sadly predictable. Those words—their multitude and their volume—come from all of those you’d expect. For most, their greatest wisdom would be much more silence at this moment. But the parties and politicians now trying hard to out-shout each other are saying almost exactly what they always say. 

I find it hard to imagine how a bevy of grand-standing politicians converging on Uvalde will do anything but make an unbelievably horrific situation worse. I could wish they would all be struck suddenly mute for at least enough time to let us weep in heartbroken silence for a while, spared their witless word fog and shameless self-promotion.

Most of us are still in shock, trying to make some sense of the senseless.

If at this moment you can react to this “slaughter of the innocents” in a way that is mostly rational, what is wrong with your heart?

Right now, it doesn’t help much to realize that, as one commentator mentioned, a child is still far more likely to die in a car crash on the way to school than to die in a school shooting. There is a time for such a realization; today is probably not that time.

Statistics are usually face-less. The Uvalde victims and their families are not, but I confess that I really don’t want to see the faces of the victims and their families right now. I’m not sure I have any right to such an intrusion. It feels wrong. It feels like a trespass, even though I can well understand that the families would want us to see how beautiful and amazing their precious ones were, so that perhaps we might share more in their grief and loss.

But I see precious faces already. I see the faces of my grandchildren. Yes, I still have them. But I can all too well imagine . . . and that imagining is more than heartbreaking enough to send me to my knees on behalf of those whose loss is so poignantly real and deep.

So I ask again, who can hear of such an unthinkable atrocity and react rationally?

But the time certainly comes when, even with trails of tears still on our cheeks, we must try.

Can we stop such horror completely? I see no rational reason to think so. But surely we can take some wise steps to try to at least make atrocities such as this one less likely. Can we take more prudent steps with regard to background checks, “red flag” laws, etc.? I don’t know. But we’d better do better. I do know this: Those on both extremes on this issue who just yell at their counterparts on “the other side” make losers of us all. As usual.

We will never turn in all of our guns, nor should we. Did we learn nothing from Prohibition? Many ordinary people became “criminals.” Real criminals became more numerous and richer than ever. (And, though I know the analogy breaks down if taken too far, good luck at curing obesity by taking away forks.)

The societal unraveling evidenced by mass shootings has far deeper roots than anything attached to triggers and firing pins, and I doubt that any “solutions” that only involve triggers and firing pins will ultimately be very helpful.

For now, I pray. Mostly, I pray for those families and all who are hurting.

And, for now, I’ve said too much. Souls in pain need some silence to start healing. Tears speak more wisely than words. And when the time comes to speak, the words will mean more.

God give us the courage and wisdom we need for deep healing, the kind that’s found through repentance, not arrogance and “simple” solutions.

Curtis K. Shelburne

Muleshoe Journal Correspondent


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