Posted Online: Jan. 02, 2013, 5:20 pm

End of World? Innocent no longer

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By Gabriele Doyle

I had my own version of The Night Before Christmas which was going to comprise my column this week, but Karl Knudsen beat me to it (and didn't he do a great job?!). So onto another topic.

I have always loved children, but didn't know the depth to which it was possible to love them until I had my own. I miscarried twice, but in the end was blessed with three beautiful, intelligent, loving children. (Don't try to take advantage of me now, Annemie, Hardy and Nathanael!)

The day of the Sandy Hook shootings, I was at work until late and checked out details on the Internet. On the drive home, while listening to K-LOVE, I heard the announcers talking about the shootings in hushed tones.

They spoke about what a normal morning it must have been for the parents, giving their children bowls of cereal, gathering coats and boots, packing lunches, and trying to get them out the door on time.

But that evening, many of those parents were staring across that kitchen table at an empty chair. I could picture this so clearly in my mind's eye that I couldn't help but burst into tears, which is obviously not the best thing to do when you're driving a dark, snowy country road home.

The pain of these parents and the loved ones of the other slain victims struck me so strongly that I couldn't get it out of my mind. At church I teach children from 6 years old to sixth grade, with a preponderance of 6- to 8-year-old children.

The thought of any of these children's bodies being violated by a metal projectile is enough to make me want to vomit. The fate of the administrators and teachers who died just plain scares me. And the fact that others immediately afterward wanted to play copycat killer is terrifying!

The end of the world as we know it had nothing to do with the Mayan calendar and everything to do with the violation of our moral expectations. We are innocent no longer. We are tainted with corruption and filth; disillusionment, discourtesy, disharmony; disaster and death. This is a world with lust but not love.

Somehow violence and carnality have been glorified in our culture, while kindness, compassion and thoughtfulness are considered weakness. One of my favorite Christmas traditions, dating back eons to my single days, was to read the women's magazines with a cup of hot cocoa and a box of tissues. I would devour the stories of good people doing good things and cry my eyes out over them.

They were good tears, as the articles were an affirmation that there was still good in the world. I so desperately want to hang on to that belief. My husband occasionally pulls articles out of the newspaper before I have a chance to see them in the vain hope that he can keep me from getting upset about some terrible tragedy, particularly those involving children.

Yet I can't help but think that we need to get upset. What a puerile word -- let's try OUTRAGED instead. We plain, simple, ordinary folk need to take back our society, and not with violence. We need to have the courage of our convictions, true, but I think it's day-to-day actions (which, by the way, tell the most about a person's character) which will make the most difference.

For many of you, this type of behavior is a foregone conclusion. But have you looked at our youth lately? The school shootings come from extremely disturbed CHILDREN. Even 20-year-old Adam Lanza was himself still somewhat a child. And yet he annihilated an entire class of first-graders, along with administrators and teachers. He also destroyed his own mother. We can't just point our fingers and hurl our anger at the shooters -- what is making them do this? And it's not just in the U.S. -- remember Dunblane and Norway?

What causes a person to become so dissociated from human feelings that he is able to shoot someone, penetrating flesh and blood, to the point that the body ceases to function? Are these people even capable of taking in the enormity of what killing is?

I think the Internet can be a great thing, but it's frightening that it's used to garner information on wholesale slaughter. At least in the old days you had to pull out the old World Book encyclopedia. In the old days you got home from school, had a glass of milk and a cookie or two, and went out to find your friends to play in the park, ride your bikes, climb trees, or play a game of pickup softball. Now we have media exchange. Thanks but no thanks. I prefer face-to-face, heart-to-heart interaction.

Something's gotta give. We can't go on like this. When a tragedy is so bad that the first responders require trauma treatment, you know it's bad. It's time to go back to simple, straightforward moral values. You may or may not believe in the Bible, but it so clearly lays out a plan of behavior for us — a plan whose sanity is incontrovertible.
Go ahead and write it off if you want, but if you desire positive change, if you want a good heart, if you want to make a true difference in people's lives and bring them into the light, it's time to look the Creator right in the eye and choose whom you will serve, and how.
To each of you, whatever your religion, sexual orientation, lifestyle, creed, motto -- I wish you the most blessed of New Years, and a hole in your heart that only God can fill.
Gabriele Doyle of Andalusia serves as business manager of River Bend Christian Counseling, which she started with her husband.