”I did not deny God’s existence, but I doubted His absolute justice.” - Elie Wiesel, “Night”
I’ve been reading a few pages, each evening, of “Night” by Elie Wiesel. I can only take a few pages before I have to set it down. I inwardly shout, “Get out! Leave! Now! Run!” “Night” recounts Wiesel’s experience as a Romanian Jew during the Holocaust. It is profoundly sad. I can only internalize so much of his account before I become anxious and unsettled.
When I heard of the Connecticut massacre, of 20 children dying (six adults, too) I was immediately sickened, physically nauseated by the senselessness of killing babies. You ask yourself, “How can this be? How can slaughtering innocence ever be contemplated, let alone acted upon? Why would this happen?”
That’s really not the question needing asked. But rather, how was this massacre perpetrated? (Answer: see assault weapons.) The timeless question for our species is why is man so prone to violence, so willing to hurt and humiliate?
I was taken aback by former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee’s observation on the Connecticut massacre that, “We ask why there is violence in our schools, but we have systematically removed God from our schools. Should we be so surprised that schools would become a place of carnage?” I found his comments both disgusting and surprising.
Surprising from the perspective that I thought Huckabee, as an ordained Southern Baptist minister, would have emphasized that God is present everywhere and always. He suggests the contrary. That because prayers are not offered in public schools, what? Death and mayhem shall ensue?
As a non-believer in a personal god, I find such questions intriguing. In the 2011, visually stunning movie, “Tree of Life,” a character observes, “He sends flies to wounds he should heal.” He, of course, is God. It’s a legitimate observation to me. One, I imagine, discussed from church pulpits all over America last Sunday. It is a question that can only be finessed because that is exactly what the Old Testament God does time and time again.
It begs, however, the question, “Why?” I have questioned the existence of God ever since I was old enough to realize that really bad things happen to good people. Why? Where was God during the Holocaust? Or, during the Trail of Tears? Or, the Moro Crater Massacre? Or, Sandy Hook Elementary School? Was God’s attention diverted, busy creating other universes? Discussing whom to smite with Archangels Gabriel and Michael? Was God on vacation?
I don’t think that is the case because if I were an omnipotent, omniscient, forever-always-present God, I would know that Adam Lanza would, on Dec. 14, 2012, systematically execute innocence. These children had no choice of “free will.” If I knew humanity was capable of the Holocaust, would I (God) not reasonably tweak ever so slightly my design of mankind?
Why were children massacred in Newtown? Because a mentally deranged man had ready access to assault weapons. He went off the reservation of “acceptable” human behavior.
No, a far better question is how was the act accomplished? To the degree we can identify and help the mentally ill is one issue, with what ease (how) we slaughter each other is quite another.
Happiness is not a warm gun. John Lennon knew that.
”Mankind must remember that peace is not God’s gift to his creatures; peace is our gift to each other.” – Elie Wiesel