As I sit down to write this meditation, it is December 14, 2012, the day a twenty-year-old gunman went into the Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut, in the United States, and killed twenty school kids and six of the teachers and administrators of the school.
Not all the facts are known yet about why this young man decided that it would be a good idea to commit this act. What is it that would make a young man believe that the most significant and last action he took on Earth should be killing twenty-six people and then taking his own life?
I certainly don’t know. It’s Greek to me. I know a little bit about other languages. I took four years of Latin in high school. I took two years of college French. I have been around many Spanish-speaking areas. I can recognize German, Portuguese, and Italian words when I hear them. I even learned some Arabic words when I lived in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia for six months. Greek, however, is entirely foreign to me.
In the same way that I can’t relate to Greek, I cannot relate to this young man’s final act. Other violent acts I understand; I have screamed in frustration; Sometimes I cuss a blue streak; I have been known to lash out reflexively and hurt someone who has hurt me, accidently or on purpose. This, however, I cannot comprehend.
I am sure more “facts” will be revealed. We will learn more about what made this troubled person “tick,” but I am not sure we will ever apprehend the motivation for what seems like such an egregious deed. However, if I were to meet a Greek-speaking youth who needed my help, it would be incumbent upon me to learn how to communicate with him. In that same way, we must learn how to “speak” the language of those so disaffected by our culture that they turn to the language of rage to express themselves.
Our inability to fathom the consciousness of one who had made this type of decision cannot release us from the responsibility to continue seeking the means to learn the language of those who are alienated from society.
Reminder for the Soul: I am reminded that I have a responsibility to those who seem to be estranged from the others in their lives. I cannot use the excuse that I don’t understand. I can’t brush it off and say, “it’s Greek to me.”