North Jefferson News, Gardendale, AL

December 20, 2012

Our Views: In a season of peace and goodwill, an unspeakable horror

North Jefferson News

AN NJN EDITORIAL — Those of us who put words together into sentences for public consumption are often looked upon to provide insight in times of crisis, to look beyond the facts and provide “the big picture.”

In our case, we may be failing you this week.

There are very few words to adequately describe what happened Friday. There are even fewer words to explain it.

“Pure evil” is one phrase we’ve heard thrown about. That would assume the actions of someone rational, and we have our doubts that would apply to the gunman, given what we currently know.

It seems likely that the murderer was impaired by some sort of mental or psychological illness, if only because we assume that no sane person could have done such a horrific thing.

What’s worse is that we have had even more senseless deaths in our part of the world over the weekend. In Heflin, a gunman killed three people and wounded a 2-year-old child before police shot and killed him. In Homewood, a mother and her two children were killed in their home. And inside St. Vincent’s Hospital in Birmingham, police killed a man who shot and wounded one of their own.

All of this has come during what is supposed to be “the most wonderful time of the year,” which makes it all the more unimaginable.

It’s also fired up the political battle over gun control again, with advocates claiming the need for tighter restrictions on gun ownership, while gun-rights supporters argue that the massacre might not have happened at all, if only someone at the school had firearms to stop the killer. (For the record, we’ll note that the guns used were legally purchased by the gunman’s mother, whom he first killed and then stole her guns.)

So what do we do to protect our children?

We wish we had the solution, but the fact is that evil exists in our world, and there are times when an evil person or group simply can’t be stopped, no matter what we do to prevent such acts. Not very reassuring, but it’s the truth.

We can teach our children how to react in the face of such danger. We can love them and hug them, and most importantly teach them what’s right and what’s wrong.

And we can tell them about a man born a little more than 2,000 years ago, who preached peace and goodwill but also met a violent death.

Violence and evil did not stop him, ultimately.

Violence and evil should not stop us, either.