Monday, December 17, 2012

EMPATHY AND ANXIETY AND "BE NOT AFRAID"

The more the tragedy in Newtown, Connecticut sinks in, the more all of us are beginning to empathize with that community and to realize that that community is us!

The news coverage on the 24 hour networks acts as a two edge sword. On the one hand it helps us to be there and to realize that this tragedy could have happened anywhere. On the other hand, I worry that it will inspire other deranged people to consider a similar type atrocity simply to go down in a blaze of notoriety and 24 hour a day international news coverage that garners even the President of the USA's attention and "ministry."

Yesterday we remembered the victims and their families at all our Sunday Masses. Both Fr. Dawid and I had to make some changes to our homilies to tie the tragedy into them and to give a perspective of faith, although the Advent readings actually contributed to that and the homily I already had only needed some minor adjustments.

In fact Fr Dawid has a classmate from Mt. St. Mary's Seminary who is a priest in a nearby parish to Newtown and that parish has lost some of the children killed. Our local television station learned of it and wanted to interview him about it.

One parishioner asked me before the procession at the beginning of the 12:10 PM Mass if we had security, anyone with a concealed gun who could react at any of our Masses if someone came into the Church at any time to do what the killer in Newtown did. Our nerves are frayed and we live as though the other shoe will fall at any moment. I felt the same way in the hours and days following 9/11, I felt as though a jetliner would crash into the building in my town at the time, into my church too!

As soon as I heard the news on Friday, I wondered if something similar could happen at our school. I wondered what we would do as a parish and community if it had been our school and our kids and our teachers. Yes, the thought is a nightmare, a nightmare that is a reality for the people of Newtown at this very moment.

We have security similar to what this Newtown school had in place. We have locked doors and people have to be "buzzed" in and they must register at the desk and get a security card clearance. But we've got to do more and we will.

I think we may have to consider hiring off duty police to be present on our campus at all our Sunday Masses. Our CCD program at our school on Sunday needs to have the same security in place as our school does during the week.

But we can't live like the bubble boy. What about field trips, the school Masses we have in a wide open church? Do we over react and make our children even more insecure and dependent on living in a bubble, a manufactured, virtual world?

When we look at how much more protected our children are today compared to what we baby boomers were allowed to do growing up, and we lived dangerously, not only in automobiles that had no seat belts but also in what we did and where we went without our parents holding our hands and having to know where we were every moment of every day, just as long as we got home by dinner and after dinner returned home before it got dark.

Ultimately, and I can't believe I'm saying this, we must listen to the Saint Louis Jesuits' in their popular song, "Be Not Afraid."

We have to get back in the car, even though the neighbors and their children were killed in a car accident that day. We have fly in planes that could crash, be hijacked and used as a weapon of mass destruction. We have to go into hospitals and risk contagious diseases. We have to undergo minor and major surgery which in itself could end our lives.

We can't live life paralyzed by the extraordinary and what happened in Newtown is grossly extraordinary.

Ultimately, we have failed in communicating the true faith to our people, if we haven't taught them or made it clear in our Sacraments, especially the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass, that our true home isn't here but in heaven and that Jesus Christ, the Son of God was murdered to show us that this world is hostile to goodness and to truth and to love and to hope because of Satan, because of Original Sin and certainly because of actual sin. We may have to experience a fate like His but death will not be the end if we have died a death like His for we will also share in a like resurrection!

The prophet Isaiah standing in the ruins of Jerusalem which had been destroyed, mournfully cries out "Rejoice, (Gaudete) in the Lord always, Again I say rejoice." "Rise up Jerusalem!"

Our salvation is at hand, but it won't be through the means that this world offers us, it will only be through our Faith in Jesus Christ and what He has wrought.

Finally, if our American people and the political parties to which they belong cannot see the connection between being pro-choice when it comes to killing a child in the womb and the choice that this deranged man made on Friday, they are truly delusional like he was. You can't declare that killing in one circumstance is a women's choice only and therefore off limits to even legal prohibition and at the same time lament what has happened in Newtown. Each of those children could have been killed by their mom as long as that child was hidden in her womb and by her private choice which has no law to prevent it. How many six year olds are absent from their schools this morning because of abortion and no one gives a damn? That truth is a part of this national nightmare scenario of the current circumstances we lament.


30 comments:

Fr. Allan J. McDonald said...

Edited by me for questionable terms:
From Gene:
You forget that such incidents are extremely rare, given the size of the population and the number of events. The media milk these for all they are worth, as do the gun control nuts. Tragic as these things are, they do not warrant the hysteria they induce...(edited)... I would guess that, at St. Jo's Masses, there are off-duty cops and other licensed citizens who carry concealed. Let's hope so if such should ever happen.

Henry Edwards said...

"You can't declare that killing in one circumstance is a women's choice only and therefore off limits to even legal prohibition and at the same time lament what has happened in Newtown."

Well said, Fr. McDonald.

"How many six year olds are absent from their schools this morning because of abortion and no one gives a damn?"

The 60 million infants murdered in utero during the past 40 years amount to 20% of our current population. Ten times the holocaust of Nazi Germany.

Joe Shlabotnick said...

Gene:

As a reformed liberal, I would caution you against assuming all those in favor of gun control are simply "nuts". I used to favor gun control and a little education (especially 20th Century history) changed my mind. Many of those who favor gun control are earnest people of good will who have been misguided or misinformed. It would be just as easy for the other side to call those of us who oppose gun control as "gun-owning NRA nuts". Either side can go too far and it is easy to stereotype each side, which I believe is part of the whole problem with our political scene today--dealing in stereotypes instead of reality. Neither side can talk to each other if our dialogue deteriorates into name-calling.

rcg said...

The connection of this to the abortion issue is far, far, more expansive than the right to life. It is the fact of weakness, evil, and sin being ignored. People are coming forward with all the strange habits the poor young man had. How many of the other students were lectured to be tolerant of him and let him in their midst? He reeked of danger. Why was nothing done? Perhaps we thought he could be helped by keeping him in the community. I have seen so many people like this young man who have done damage with baseball bats, golf clubs, knives, anything they can lay their hands on. The society confuses tolerance for approval and expose our children to these poor sick people. Animals can instinctively spot a sick animal and will push other sick animals out and will kill them. It is that same gift that helps us survive. We are also given the gift of reason and the ability to help them, strengthened through Grace. But we are also tempted into sloth, to avoid confronting the very unpleasant task of forcing the sick animal out although we can try mightily not to kill him. It is a horror we will confront sooner or later. Those children paid for our self serving version of tolerance with their lives.

Gene said...

I am trying to remember what I may have written that required editing.

Templar said...

I mourn for those who are left behind, who have to struggle with the pain and stress of having survived, I do not mourn for the dead. Death comes for us all. We all owe a death and can not barter on the terms. We should not live in fear, we should not give in to the fear such evil doers wish to foster in us. I pray for the souls of the dead, that Our Lord will judge them fairly, and hope that the children who were victims, being under the age of reason and reasonably assured of being free from mortal sin, will merit swift passage to the Church Triumphant. I pray that those adult victims who confronted the attacker and gave their lives that others might live will likewise be judged fairly, and having demonstrated the Greatest Love also be given swift passage to Heaven. And finally I pray most of all for those whose Faith was absent, or failed them, who chose to hide and save themselves. The pain will be hardest on them.

2 I will love you, O Lord, my strength: 3 The Lord is my firmament, my refuge, and my deliverer. My God is my helper, and in him will I put my trust. My protector, and the horn of my salvation, and my support. 4 Praising, I will call upon the Lord: and I shall be saved from my enemies. ~ Psalm 18:2-4

Anonymous 2 said...

Thank you for this post, Father McDonald. It helps us to put matters into proper perspective in several respects.
And the most important perspective is that ultimately and most profoundly, the Crucifixion (and the Resurrection) is the_only_thing that can make sense of tragedy and suffering, all the more so because it is also the supreme act of Divine Empathy and Compassion. Every other proffered explanation or remedy inevitably falls short in the end.

John Nolan said...

No-one can have failed to be moved by the photographs of the children who were killed. Yet thanks to modern technology we have amazing (and moving) pictures of babies in the womb whose lives are reckoned as being of no account. It's about time so-called civilized nations woke up and started applying civilized values.

I think the gun laws in the UK are absurdly restrictive, but police reports from Connecticut testify to the vast amount of ammunition expended. I don't deny this woman's right to own arms if her hobby was target shooting, or even her right to self-defence; but surely she was negligent in keeping so much ammunition at home. This surely should be kept in a secure armoury.

ytc said...

Fr., say an EF requiem for them.

John Nolan said...

An 'assault rifle' is what most military personnel carry. It is a relatively short weapon, often of a bull-pup design (ie with the magazine behind the pistol grip). It assumes that the
maximum effective range in action is 300 metres, and is capable of fully automatic fire. It would not be the weapon of choice for a sport or target shooter, and I can see no obvious reason why a private citizen would need to own one.

At the age of 13 I was on the rifle range with the school cadet force firing the .303 Lee-Enfield No.4 rifle (bolt-action, 10-round magazine). It nearly took my shoulder off, and its use in rapid-fire falling-plate competitions took considerable skill.

Later in the UOTC and Territorial Army I was trained in the 7.62 self-loading rifle, the Bren light machine gun (modified for 7.62), the 9mm Sterling sub-machine gun which was my personal weapon as a FOO, and the 9mm Browning pistol which I carried as a staff officer. I was quite a good shot. I was mainly involved in firing heavier stuff, as I was an artillery officer, with the guns five miles behind me and the target a mile in front.

I never felt any inclination to take the lot home with me.

Anonymous said...

How many rounds of ammo does the average police man carry? At least 50 in ready to go magazines for his Glock - which usually has between 15 and 17 round mags.

In his cruiser's trunk the typical cop will have an AR15 with 3-4 30 round magazines for a total of some 90 to 120 rounds. All this and he also has a radio to call dozens of similarly armed police to his side within 15-20 minutes.

Now, a civilian in need of a weapon and no two-way radio that will prompt an instant 'drop everything and send all units' response to that GPS locale, ought to have what? LESS ammo?

As for assault rifles - the .223 round is barely lethal enough for deer! At that range and with those kids, the killer could have used a Ruger 10/22 firing the lowly rimfired .22lr bullet - about as small a bullet as exists - and it would have been just as deadly.

So why do we have such rifles with such magazines at all? Because the 2nd amendment is not for hunting critters. It's for protecting the People and 'free states' from tyranny both domestic and foreign. The Federalist papers spell it out - the founding fathers just won a war against a professional army thanks in large part to an armed population that had the same basic rifle as their military enemies. Until the mid-20th century, civilians continued to have basic 'parity' with the military. Not anymore. But still, close enough.

Disarm us "for the children" and all of us will be as vulnerable to tyranny as those children were.

John Nolan said...

Anon, if defending your country is your aim, join the National Guard. Can you give me a scenario where a civilian would require 300 rounds of ammunition to protect him or herself? Unless he or she was a bloody awful shot, in which case they should not be allowed access to any firearms.

Gene said...

John, Scenarios where 300 or more rounds might be needed:
1. Major urban riots
2. Social breakdown where Eric Holder's people run amuck looting and breaking into homes.
3. You're taking a drive through a city and make a wrong turn right into some kind of entitlement protest that has turned violent. Remember Mr. Denny the truck driver out in LA, I believe, who was pulled out of his truck and killed by one of the LA feral Blacks?
4. Civil war
5. Race War
6. Government minions are sent to confiscate weapons, money, or property of citizens.

Do not tell me these cannot happen. History is replete with examples of the same.

Templar said...

Anon, you hit the nail spot on the head. The 2nd Amendment is a right of the citizens to defend themselves against tyranny foreign and domestic.

John Nolan, read the above...the 2nd Amendment is not about defending the Nation from just foreign attack, it's the last defense of the citizens against her own Government, just like when the British Citizens in America in the 18th century needed to defend themselves against the tyranny of their own Government across the Ocean (that would be your former Empire).

To answer your specific question on when would a citizen need a rifle and 300 rounds of ammo? When society breaks down. Pandemic, financial collapse, solar flare created EMP, or terrorist created EMP, and then of course there is also the case of a Socialist attempting to declare himself a dictator and suspending the Bill of Rights say. In all those situations the ability of the Government to cope with the resulting riots and looting will be quickly the order of the day. If you like to assume the "authorities" will always be there for you, great you don't need to arm up. American's don't think that way. Obviously you do not grasp the concept of self sufficiency.

And a Bullpup designed rifle is complete garbage. In exchange for the slight tactical advantage of a rifle 4 to 7 inches shorter than a traditional mag center design, you get a laundry list of technical issues and complexity problems to deal with. Ugh.

Anonymous 2 said...

So there you have it, John. You and I may never be able to “get” the gun thing (I say this even though I have lived in the States for 34 years and have become a U.S. citizen). Anonymous’s description of what the average police car carries (assuming it is accurate) makes the point well enough I think. Compare it to the average British police car (a couple of truncheons perhaps?)!

Clearly, though, Britain is headed for tyranny or apocalypse and the British will be utterly helpless and collapse into chaos – you know, just like they did in 1939.

But I have also seen Americans respond to crises and disasters. They are far better, and far more decent, than you might surmise from reading the opinions about their fellow citizens expressed by some commentators on this Blog._And_ America saved Britain’s bacon in the 1940s.

But you have to understand how afraid so many people over here have become during the past few years. The national psyche has been traumatized, and most people don’t even realize it. It began with September 11 and was then fueled by the media (and the government) – for many years, during the George Bush era, you could not listen to the radio or turn on the T.V. without hearing about terrorism several times each day. (You and I will remember living through the days of the I.R.A terrorist attacks in Britain during the 1960s and 1970s. Thankfully, however, we did not have a 24 hour news cycle back then, although there were times when tensions were high and we had to be on alert.) And then in 2007/08 the “masters of the universe” destroyed the economy, and many people lost their savings, their jobs, their homes, and sometimes their hope. Add to that the constant bombardment of violence on T.V., in the movies, and in video games, not to mention constantly nasty, mean political rhetoric, as well as the addiction to violence they reflect and help to reinforce, and perhaps the “gun” thing is not so difficult to “get” after all.

In my view, the whole country needs a bloody intervention! That is why I appreciated Father McDonald reminding us of the St. Louis Jesuits singing “Be not afraid.” In fact, here it is:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=snmwD6d9Xo4




Templar said...

Anon2....oh, you're English! I had no idea America was your adopted country. Explains so much.

Ireland and "the troubles" are a perfect example of why a populace needs to be armed against the Government.

About 9/11....if we reacted to that tragedy like y'all are reacting to the CT Tragedy, we'd have a box cutter ban in effect. Instead we hardened the targets (aircraft) and made the tactic ineffective. The reaction to CT should not be ban guns, but harden the targets and make the tactic ineffective. How many children have died in school fires in the last 50 years in America? Zero. Why? Schools and Fire Departments cooperate and coordinate to make schools "hard" against that sort of tragedy. Police departments and Schools now need to learn to cooperate, design schools to harden them against attack, cordinate reactions and responses, work together. The answer is not to ban inanimate objects ancillary to the issue, but to defend against the the attacker.

Gene said...

Anon 2, So, you want to blame George Bush for everything, too. LOL! The economy crashed because of the Democratic pressure on banks to make bad loans and poor investments, along with their continued insistence of pouring money down the rat hole of entitlement programs.

We did save Britain's bacon in WWII, else you would be running around in lederhosen humming "Deutschland" and sieg heiling the statue of Hitler in Piccadilly. Give me a break. I'll bet you are one of these who want to de-construct Churchill, too. The lace on your lib panties is showing...

John Nolan said...

Gene, Templar, Anon and others:

Britain did not "collapse into chaos" in 1939 - she got involved in a European war while the good ol' US of A sat on their hands until the Nips jolted them out of their complacency and Hitler conveniently declared war on them.

Wading into an urban riot and spraying ammunition around will get you arrested or killed. I also assume that since civil rights legislation Negroes also have the right to arm themselves to the teeth.

I find it astonishing and disturbing that a mature democracy is so unsure of itself that its citizenry feels the need to arm itself against its own government. Terrorists don't get into shootouts with the security forces; when they do they invariably lose, as the IRA knew full well. The Israelis are well armed, but it doesn't protect them against suicide bombers.

Templar, your comment on the Irish 'troubles' is more than puzzling. The only part of the 'populace' which could be said to be 'armed against the government' were the NI loyalists. I can forgive Americans for not understanding the Irish situation, but I would suggest to Gene that he does some reading up on WW II. The USA did not save Britain from invasion; by the time you got involved Hitler was six months into his war with the Soviet Union, where the fate of the Third Reich was to be decided. Churchill was relieved when he heard the news of Pearl Harbor because he saw the defeat of Japan as preserving the British Empire in the Far East. The fact that the US was as committed to its destruction as much as to the destruction of Japan seems to have escaped his notice.

Anonymous 2 said...

Templar: Yes, I was born and raised in England. And yes it does “explain so much.” The question is, of course, _what_it explains.

Gene: I can always tell when you are getting desperate for arguments – The labeling on your panties starts showing.

Anonymous 2 said...

John: My reference to Britain “collaps[ing] into chaos” in 1939 was, of course, a bit of sarcasm. I am sure you understood that but I wanted to clarify it in case others did not.

Marc said...

I've lived in the American south all my life (in fact the first time I ever crossed the Mason-Dixon Line was in October of this year).

I also don't get it.

So, you Brits are not alone...

Templar said...

Anon2...it explains your attitudes and positions on things, nothing snide implied.

John Nolan...I've made no comments about WW2 to this point in the thread. I will say that in my humble opinion WW2 was won by US Industry and Russian Blood, and only those 2 countries truly won the war. England was on the winning side, but her victory was Pyrrhic, as her position in the world was lost while winning. I give full marks to Churchill for his conduct in executing the war, more so since no doubt he knew he was mortgaging The Empire to win. The US would have been much better served if FDR had listened to Churchill more.

Please, dear Lord, no one calls Blacks Negroes. Very insulting here in the US. And yes of course they are protected by the 2nd Amendment, ever since 1868, odd thing to ask.

Regarding your shock at our immature Democracy....well, first off, we're not a Democracy. We're a representative Republic, each of the 50 states being sovereign, and the central Government drawing it's powers from our consent to be Governed. If we were unarmed our consent would be moot wouldn't it?

As for Ireland...I understand the situation there, thank you, and I was referring to the Provos being armed against the Prots. As an example to you I will however refrain from sticking my nose into Politics in your country, and would suggest you adopt a similar course of action towards America.

Templar said...

Marc...for what it's worth, I have spent 25 years in New York, 10 years in Florida and 15 years in Georgia. New York has very strict gun control laws, Florida and Georgia very liberal control laws. I can personally attest to the fear and feeling of helplessness living in NY where only the criminal are armed, and worse yet, they know it. I have never felt that way in even the seedier parts of FL and GA. Just saying, I don't think it's a North or South thing, either you are an advocate for gun ownership or not, your heritage has no bearing.

Gene said...

Anon 2, I have done quite a bit of reading on WW II, in fact, I have a book on it at the publisher's now.
Negro gangs are already armed to the teeth, or don't you read the papers.
You do not, indeed, understand America at all. More on this later. Film at 11.

Gene said...

This just in: Did you know that the UK has the highest violent crime rate in Europe...even higher than the US? Yep. There are 2000 violent crimes per 100,000 in the UK and only 466 per 100,000 in the US. Gee, imagine that in Jolly Old Socialist England. LOL!

Anonymous 2 said...

Gene: I think your first comment must have been directed at John Nolan. He was the one talking at some length about WW II and using the term “Negro.” I have lived here for 34 years and know not to do that (I also know how much fashion changes regarding terminology, in the Black aka African-American community itself – indeed, so much so that I find it difficult sometimes to keep up).

So, yes, actually, I do understand quite a lot about America. What I _don’t_ fully understand is the obsession with guns. Well, at one level of course I do understand it; I am a trained comparativist after all. What I really don’t understand is the resistance of so many Americans to at least trying to see, in light of (other) civilized countries’ experiences, why the current obsession with guns may be pathological and deeply disturbed psychically. Apparently, many native born Americans (such as Marc) don’t understand it either. But again, that said, at one level I do understand this too – when you think you are the best country in the world on all possible measures, evidence to the contrary notwithstanding, why would you ever want to look at other countries’ experiences? Instead, just dismiss them with some “label” such as “Socialist.”

Many who deeply love America (including myself) want to help save her from herself. That requires “tough love” in the form of truth telling. Because I love America, my adopted home, I do not want to see her go down the tubes because she refuses to look at reality but prefers to rests on her laurels. And, pace Templar, people like John Nolan, who I am sure is also a friend of America, has every right to speak truth to a friend too. I am sure Aristotle would agree. Thankfully, at least Obama is trying to get the country to face up to certain realities such as the appalling educational performance statistics in international tables (and yes, the blight of gun violence too). Whether his policy prescriptions are wise is another question, of course. But before seeking solutions one first has to see the problems. However, if one dares to question American preeminence in absolutely everything, the label “declinist” or “unpatriotic” awaits one from those who refuse to face up to, or can’t handle, reality.

Now, on the crime statistics, you are probably going by statistics from a few years ago. They seem to be from 2009 (when Labour was in power), so they are “in” a bit late. Since then, under the Conservative-led coalition government, violent crime rates have dropped significantly (still nothing to be proud of, though). And the gun homicide rate is still ridiculously insignificant compared with America (definitely something to be proud of, although still too high). In addition, the statistical situation is complex (apples versus oranges problems, non-reporting of crimes in both countries, etc). I will try to elaborate on this point later if I have time.

Templar: Britain is also a representative democracy. But it isn’t a republic – not yet at least, unless and until the radical anti-monarchists get their way, which I for one hope they never will. The anti-traditionalists have already gutted the House of Lords. Let’s hope we can keep their iconoclastic grubby little hands off the Monarchy.

Anonymous 2 said...

P.S. Gene: I will look forward to reading your book on WWII. Let us know when it comes out.

John Nolan said...

Templar, Martin Luther King referred to Negroes, and what was good enough for him is good enough for me. However, since you are obviously a PC bleeding-heart liberal, I apologise for the offence caused.

Now for your history lesson. When the Irish Free State was set up it disarmed the police and renamed it the Civil Guard. The Royal Ulster Constabulary (overwhelmingly Protestant) was always armed, and their reserve, the B-Specials, kept arms and ammunition at home. Although the B's were disbanded, the loyalists held a famous demonstration in the 1970s, waving their firearms and shotgun certificates as a warning not to the Catholic minority, which was disarmed by comparison, but to the British government. Hence my comment about a population in arms against its own government.

The PIRA never numbered more than a few hundred, and since their aim was a united Ireland, they did not officially target the Prots (although a lot of their murders were clearly sectarian) but attempted to destroy the economy of the North and inflict casualties on the security forces which they hoped would be unacceptable to the British government. They also extended their terror campaign to the British mainland and the continent of Europe.

PIRA was defeated by a combination of good intelligence and military action (which always was circumscribed by the circumstances) and the realization by Gerry Adams that 'armed struggle' was in fact politically counterproductive. However funds provided by Colonel Gaddafi and gullible Irish-Americans did prolong the conflict.

I must confess some feeling of Schadenfreude when the US, which didn't have a single bomb dropped on it during the war, suddenly found it was vulnerable to terrorism. Still, carrying an assault rifle and 300-plus rounds of ammunition will no doubt save you from being blown up. The USMC must be one of the best trained and equipped fighting forces in the world, and yet it is still taking casualties from a bunch of rag-heads in Afghanistan.

Gene said...

I'll remind you, John, that during the War Between the States, the US suffered over 600,000 killed...more American deaths than in WWI, WWII, Korea, and Vietnam together. We do know something about war on our own soil. The American South is the only area of the US to have lost a war on its own soil. Your implied slur on the USMC is not appreciated. You cannot have a war without casualties, I don't care who you are fighting. Why don't we really turn the USMC and others of our forces loose over there...I mean like in a real war...I think you might appreciate the result more acutely. LOL!

John Nolan said...

Gene, you have slightly missed the point. The USMC is up there with the French Foreign Legion, the Waffen-SS and the Brigade of Guards when it comes to elite fighting forces (I'm not counting special forces here). But like everyone else in Afghanistan it is operating under rules of engagement which tie their hands and which the insurgents know how to exploit to their best advantage.

As far as the Civil War (or War between the States) is concerned, it is joked over here that it was the only war the Americans arrived on time for.