Last week I saw a bumper sticker that read, “Losing faith in humanity one person at a time.” I laughed about it and went on my way. Later, though, I was disheartened to realize that it’s true. I am losing faith in people.
I suppose it’s been happening slowly over the past few years. As I get older I see more and more instances of our capacity to, on the ‘better’ end of things, just plain suck, and on the worse end of things, be horribly, horribly evil. I see people playing disgusting ‘jokes’ on others. I see business people willing to give up their ethics to make a few extra bucks. I see men and women satisfying their own momentary pleasures without a second thought of how it will destroy their families.
And then Friday’s tragedy happened and the true depravity of the human heart hit me full force. Why oh why am I having to write about children dying for the second time in a few weeks? When I wrote The Unthinkable it was about the horror of having a sick child. And now I can’t help but write about the horror of having your child murdered because I can’t stop thinking about it.
Our first job and desire as parents is to keep our kids safe. When they’re babies it’s a fairly easy thing to do because we hold the sole responsibility for that little life; we control almost everything that happens to that child. When they eat, where they go, who comes in contact with them. Everything goes through a screening process.
As they get older though, we have to relinquish some of that control because we realize that in order to raise children who become responsible adults, we have to let them out into the world. Most of the time this is okay. There are lots of wonderful people out there who have the same goal and are willing to help our children along the way. But I’m increasingly seeing people who do not have my children’s best interests in mind and it terrifies me.
Last year, my then 3 year old son had something happen to him in a place where he should have been safe. Thankfully he suffered no lasting ill effects, but it was an eye opener for Eric and I that the world is not a safe place. Still, we’ve moved on and we send him to various activities feeling as though he’ll be okay. Until now.
On Friday night Eli had his Christmas concert. As I sat in the packed auditorium, I could not stop looking around in suspicion at the people there. I knew that they were there to see their children perform, but how could I be sure there wasn’t someone with evil intentions? I breathed a sigh of relief as we walked to the parking lot.
This morning as Eli got ready to leave for school I wanted to tell him to be careful. To do everything his teacher tells him without hesitation. To run and hide if he sees someone come to the door. I know that last one is foolish even though I feel it with every fiber of my being, so I bit my tongue, gave him an extra kiss and an extra ‘I love you’, and said a prayer for his safety as he headed out the door.
And now I sit here, trying to sort out my thoughts and emotions, and struggling to know what direction this writing should go. How to restore our trust in others? Creating a safer world for our kids? Discussions on gun control and mental health? At the risk of starting a theological argument, which is not my intent, I will end with something that I hope can bring at least a small measure of peace to those of you who are struggling as I am.
On Friday night, as I cried for the families of the victims, I asked God how He could allow such a thing to happen. I won’t pretend that He gave me an answer to one of the most perplexing questions of all time. But I will say that as I cried I heard a still, small voice say, “I’m crying too.” Maybe before we can begin to rebuild our faith in humanity, we need to restore our faith in the Savior who understands our sufferings and weeps with us.