On December 3, 2015, we decorated the tree. This is usually a pleasant time. Except. In the background the TV aired continuous day-after coverage of the mass shooting in San Bernardino, CA. While we placed ornaments on a tree during a time of good will, an hour and 15 minutes away from where we live (about 77 miles) people lost their lives in a senseless shooting.
I’m saddened for the victims and their families for the profound loss they have experienced. December 2, 2015, will forever be etched in our minds as a day of tragedy. Friends who live less than two blocks from the shooters’ home experienced the helicopters, flashing lights, and police activity. Our friends’ place of work went into lockdown.
What noble and higher purpose of mankind is served by an assault on innocent people? These actions beg for a rationale.
I’m saddened and angry. But at who or what? Radical religious beliefs? Arms manufacturers and firearms dealers? Gun laws that are either inadequate or easily circumvented? Ideologies of intolerance? World-wide cultural and societal failings to build values honoring human life, a sense of belonging, respect, and diversity? Disenfranchised young people? Members of an angry society who flash guns instead of words? A broken mental health system? A broken immigration policy? A lack of tolerance for our own country’s diversity?
What do you think?
We’ve buried enough people. The poem below by John McCrae was written during WWI. You can substitute your own location in place of Flanders, a region in Belgium. Most recently, perhaps, the substitution would be San Bernardino. The poppy flower mentioned in the first line has become a symbol of remembrance.
In Flanders Fields
In Flanders fields the poppies blow
Between the crosses, row on row,
That mark our place; and in the sky
The larks, still bravely singing, fly
Scarce heard amid the guns below.
We are the Dead. Short days ago
We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,
Loved and were loved, and now we lie
In Flanders fields.
Take up our quarrel with the foe:
To you from failing hands we throw
The torch; be yours to hold it high.
If ye break faith with us who die
We shall not sleep, though poppies grow
In Flanders fields.
In the last verse, let’s take that torch and hold it high to continue to build safer, tolerant societies in lieu of war. There’s much to do. I’m in.
Our Christmas tree and all it represents about our great country give me hope. I plan to remember, live in the moment, and look to the future. And do my part to pass the torch for tolerance and understanding.
Wishing you a Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays!