Finding Comfort in a Fortune Cookie — Prayers for Sandy Hook Elementary
My family had take-out Chinese for dinner last night. My fortune cookie read,
“Offer assistance, not advice, in times of crisis.”
I made some remark about how it was true, and I need to work on doing that more. Then I threw the fortune in the garbage as I cleaned up from dinner.
This morning, however, I’m seeing articles and posts about the horrific tragedy in Newtown, CT, and that fortune is coming back to me in a haunting way.
I read, and whole-heartedly agree with the statement being attributed to Morgan Freeman (although it seems the credit part is a hoax). Regardless of the source, the statement is poignant, about how the media sensationalism of tragedies like this only encourage repeat acts by disturbed individuals who want the same kind of notoriety.
But the item I saw that resonated with me the most was a quote from Darrell Scott, the father of Rachel Scott, a student victim from the 1999 Columbine shootings. He made this statement before the House Judiciary Committee in May of the same year. His statement in its entirety is below.
"Since the dawn of creation there has been both good & evil in the hearts of men and women. We all contain the seeds of kindness or the seeds of violence. The death of my wonderful daughter, Rachel Joy Scott, and the deaths of that heroic teacher, and the other eleven children who died must not be in vain. Their blood cries out for answers." "The first recorded act of violence was when Cain slew his brother Abel out in the field.
The villain was not the club he used. Neither was it the NCA, the National Club Association. The true killer was Cain, and the reason for the murder could only be found in Cain's heart. "In the days that followed the Columbine tragedy, I was amazed at how quickly fingers began to be pointed at groups such as the NRA.
I am not a member of the NRA. I am not a hunter. I do not even own a gun. I am not here to represent or defend the NRA - because I don't believe that they are responsible for my daughter's death. Therefore I do not believe that they need to be defended. If I believed they had anything to do with Rachel's murder I would be their strongest opponent."
"I am here today to declare that Columbine was not just a tragedy-it was a spiritual event that should be forcing us to look at where the real blame lies! Much of the blame lies here in this room.
Much of the blame lies behind the pointing fingers of the accusers themselves. "I wrote a poem that expresses my feelings best. This was written way before I knew I would be speaking here today:"
Now gunshots fill our classrooms,
And precious children die.
You seek for answers everywhere,
And ask the question "Why?"
You regulate restrictive laws,
Through legislative creed.
And yet you fail to understand,
That God is what we need!
"Men and women are three-part beings. We all consist of body, soul, and spirit. When we refuse to acknowledge a third part of our make-up, we create a void that allows evil, prejudice, and hatred to rush in and reek havoc. Spiritual influences were present within our educational systems for most of our nation's history. Many of our major colleges began as theological seminaries. This is a historical fact.
What has happened to us as a nation? We have refused to honor God, and in so doing, we open the doors to hatred and violence. And when something as terrible as Columbine's tragedy occurs politicians immediately look for a scapegoat such as the NRA. They immediately seek to pass more restrictive laws that contribute to erode away our personal and private liberties.
We do not need more restrictive laws." Eric and Dylan would not have been stopped by metal detectors. No amount of gun laws can stop someone who spends months planning this type of massacre. The real villain lies within our own hearts.
Political posturing and restrictive legislation are not the answers. The young people of our nation hold the key. There is a spiritual awakening taking place that will not be squelched! We do not need more religion. We do not need more gaudy television evangelists spewing out verbal religious garbage. We do not need more million dollar church buildings built while people with basic needs are being ignored.
We do need a change of heart and a humble acknowledgment that this nation was founded on the principle of simple trust in God!" "As my son Craig lay under that table in the school library and saw his two friends murdered before his very eyes, He did not hesitate to pray in school. I defy any law or politician to deny him that right!
I challenge every young person in America, and around the world, to realize that on April 20, 1999, at Columbine High School prayer was brought back to our schools. Do not let the many prayers offered by those students be in vain. Dare to move into the new millennium with a sacred disregard for legislation that violates your God-given right to communicate with Him. To those of you who would point your finger at the NRA- I give to you a sincere challenge.
Dare to examine your own heart before casting the first stone! My daughter's death will not be in vain! The young people of this country will not allow that to happen!"
That very eloquent statement, the commentary on the media's handling of these events, and my simple fortune cookie all are pinging around in my head this morning as I still try to make sense of what happened.
I think the biggest realization for me is that there IS no sense to be made of these senseless acts. Our trouble comes from even trying to do so. Of course we want a way to prevent them, but I just don't think that is possible. Violence, massacre and tragedy have been occurring since the beginning of time. It doesn't make it right. It doesn't excuse them. And it certainly does not mean that we shouldn't be horrified by them and saddened beyond belief for the families of the victims.
Where I see the breakdown happening is in how we respond to these horrific events. Instead of coming together as families, communities, and congregations, we spend our time after these tragedies alone, in front of a TV or computer, placing blame and spewing emotionless tidbits back and forth about what should be done.
We are offering advice, instead of assistance, in times of crisis.
I want to offer assistance to those touched by this tragedy in the best way I know how. To pray for them.
I want to offer assistance to my own children by letting them know they know they are loved and cherished.
I want to offer assistance by comforting my friends who are all grieving as mothers, and let them know that I share their worry and fear for our own children.
And I want to offer assistance to my community by trying to be more generous with my time and more observant to notice those in need.
"Offer assistance, not advice, in times of crisis."
In this darkest of times, I find it ironic and funny that I'm turning to such a trivial sentiment, but it is helping me today. So I thought I'd share it. Thank you, Fan Bistro of New Providence, for offering a small point of light in this dark, troubling time.