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Fighting Darkness with Light: 12 Things I Want to Remember from the Newtown Tragedy

light in darkYesterday, a 20-year-old man walked into a Connecticut kindergarten classroom and killed 20 children. My heart can hardly fathom this.

My mind was full of the events of the day: From parents dropping their kids off in the morning, fully expecting to see them again that afternoon, to the terror of the moments in the classroom, to the unimaginable grief experienced by the victims’ loved ones.  I don’t really want to think about these things…it feels as though my heart is being ripped in two. Yet, still, the thoughts keep coming…

There are all kinds of band-aids being applied to society’s ills right now…gun control, better social structures, more mental health care, better school security, etc.  None of these supply the answer though. We are broken, and we need a Savior.  Max Lucado reminded us today that our Lord was born in the dark; in a dark world that murdered hundreds of babies by the hand of Herod, a ruler, not some deeply troubled 21st c. man. Times change, but people’s hearts have not. And He knows this, yet still He suffered on our behalf. Our gentle Prince of Peace.

So today, while still reeling from the darkest blow—blows aimed at our youngest and sweetest—I have been collecting some truths I want to remember from this:

  1. Always part on loving terms.  No lost shoes are worth a grumpy send off in the morning. No argument is worth withholding a hug and a kiss and an “I love you.”
  2. Forgive others. Children, especially, are forgiving, and as a parent, I need this forgiveness and need to forgive as easily as well.
  3. Don’t ignore hurting people. Seek to understand. Don’t put on such a perfect face that hurting people can’t confide in you.
  4. Fight the desire to isolate. My first thought was to take my kids out of school and never let them go. Yet even my Father let his Son go into the world.
  5. Hug my kids more.
  6. Hug everyone more.
  7. Make every effort to bring beauty to the world – from comforting words, a kind touch, and including the misfit to painting a picture, writing a poem, and planting flowers.
  8. Listen without self-interest.
  9. Don’t be surprised by tragedy, but pray actively against it.
  10. Fight against violent video games. As the research in this book shows, killing gets easier with practice, even if the practice is virtual.
  11. Let your face light up with joy when you reunite with your children. Each day is a gift.
  12. Never forget that every person needs a new, forgiven life in Jesus Christ, and no person is beyond redemption. Even killers.

Yesterday, I wanted to curl up into a ball and just cry and hope that it really didn’t just happen. Today, I need to remember to fight the darkness with light.


Words Mean Things: Media, Kinsey, and the Sandusky Case

I use a phrase a lot around my house:  Words means things.  Obvious I know, but I think we easily forget that words really do carry meaning.  So say what you mean.

That’s why I found the following statement in a Fox News account rather disturbing : 

“In 2002, Paterno failed to alert the authorities to the claims of then-graduate assistant Mike McQueary, who said he saw Sandusky in the Penn State showers having sex with a young boy.” (italics mine, http://t.co/BJvooZ5J)

I’m sorry, but when a grown man takes a 10-year-old boy into a deserted shower and rapes him, the two are not “having sex.”  It’s sexual assault, so let’s say it that way.  It is that simple. 

I decided to check other sources to see the phrases being used in the Sandusky child sex-abuse case.  A Detroit Free Press article uses the phrase “having sex with a boy in the school shower” but correctly describes it as assault a paragraph later.  Fox and the Detroit Free Press were not alone.   The phrase “having sex” appeared in several articles from different sources, usually connected to comments from the Penn State graduate assistant.   Maybe the journalists were simply paraphrasing, so I decided to check his words himself. 

The grand jury presentation,  found online, states that the assistant witnessed an approximately ten-year-old boy “being subjected to anal intercourse by a naked Sandusky.”  Those words are  objective but accurate.  Ugly, yes, but so is child abuse.

The term “having sex” implies a consensual act.  Two consenting people “have sex.”  In sexual assault, only one person is raped, or as the grand jury report states, one is “subjected” to a sexual act.  And let’s be clear.  Children do not consent.  They are intimidated,  tricked, or forced. 

So what is happening here?  Why are reporters using casual language such as “having sex” to describe the rape of a child?  Why aren’t editors catching this and changing the language to meet the crime?   Have the Kinsey reports influenced society to this degree?  Besides error and misrepresentations in his research, I still can’t believe credence is lent to a man who gathered “research” on infant and child orgasms, often from accounts from child molesters. (Who else?)  Consider the following quote from Kinsey:

“It is difficult to understand why a child, except for cultural conditioning, should be disturbed at having its genitalia touched, or disturbed at seeing the genitalia of other persons, or disturbed at even more specific sexual contacts.” (page 121, Sexual Behavior in the Human Female.)

Controversial ideas, even false ones, work best at a slow march.  And if a bad idea has even an element of truth (yes, all humans, even infants and children, are sexual beings) it has an even greater chance of lingering.  All bad ideas had a start, a moment where a few people could have made a stand, cried the alarm, before the idea became too big to defeat. And as slavery has proven,  once a bad idea becomes “accepted” for a time, it takes years and scores of victims before the idea can be corrected.  “Cultural conditioning” never convinced the victims of slavery that their bonds were just.

Could this be our moment?  Is the use of language in the media regarding Sandusky’s child molestation waving a flag of warning for us?  Let us not slide down the slope of believing a very bad idea.  Sandusky and the 10-year-old boy were not “having sex.”  The boy was being violated and raped, and still bears the wounds in his soul to this day. 

No amount of “cultural conditioning” could convince Sandusky’s victims that his actions were anything other than pure tragedy.