Sunday, March 4, 2012

Chardon, Ohio: Searching for Answers

Volcano - A Metaphor of Evil

This past week, I awoke to read a chilling headline in tall black letters that announced that some innocents were shot by an assailant who himself was still a boy. We read these headlines and watch related images every day as the volcanoes of evil around the world never stop spewing out their merciless lava. Why this happens is a question that tests the most erudite theologians, who must try to comfort us and help us to understand what can never be explained.

This wanton murder was not a suicide bombing in Baghdad or a Taliban ambush on NATO troops in Afghanistan. This shooting occurred in Chardon, Ohio, a small town less than half an hour from my home. I remember being there a few years ago for their maple syrup festival.  A 17-year-old kid allegedly came to Chardon High School and in a few moments changed the lives of many thousands of innocent people. As I write this, I am still plagued with deep sadness and sharp anger. I cannot fathom how a mind and a heart can become so poisoned that an act of pure evil can be planned and implemented.

There were teachers in the school who put their lives in jeopardy to protect their kids.  The very best of humanity and the very worst both appearing in the same tableau.

Since Columbine, we learned that even our schools are not the sacred sanctuaries for our kids as they should be, and they used to be. When I was in high school, my fear was being shaken down for a quarter or getting pushed around on the stairwell. And, we had some fights in the schoolyard. What a difference a few decades make.

I write this before looking at the newspaper this morning. What sanguine greeting awaits me today?

I believe so strongly in forgiveness and redemption, but at times I struggle with both of these virtues. I believe that there is no act that cannot be forgiven, but I admit that for some acts it may be beyond my capacity to do so. Yet, I have seen people forgive the seemingly unforgivable, and I admire them.

Chardon, Ohio is your town too.

Pulpits across the country will admonish us to look skyward for answers. I think this is good advice, because all the rabbis, priests, ministers, imams and ministers here on earth won’t be able to silence the volcanos or explain them.

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