At my Clergy Support Group today (which is really a support group for one individual where the rest of us appear to have no issues whatsoever), our moderator initiated a conversation about systems. I was so excited. As my congregation is about to go through a dramatic shift in our governance structure, I have been thinking a lot about systems. I thought this might be a wonderful opportunity to vent and discuss. Nope. SPLAT! The conversation fell flat. Needless to say, I was disappointed.
While on the treadmill tonight, I tried to multi-task. I'm not very good at reading and running. But, I have been terrible about reading The Nation and I really wanted to catch up. So, I brought this week's copy along. I actually squealed with delight (to the dismay of my fellow gym goers) when I read Bruce Shapiro's article. He names exactly what I have stuggled to articulate since the Virginia Tech tragedy. Don't worry. I will share. He concludes and I quote,
"The point is not to excoriate an individual university president or police officer or judge but to ask: Why didn't any of you connect the dots? That is an issue of social ethics as much as of specific policies; it is what unites the failure of gun laws and the failure of the mental health system. It reflects an ideology divorced from consequence as surely as the Iraq War or the betrayal of New Orleans. The demand the Virginia Tech massacre places on the school, on Virginia, on all of us, is simple: Only connect."
It's brilliant, isn't it?
It's why I don't think we can really mourn the tragedy in Virginia (or Katrina or 9/11...). Because when we don't understand what happened. We know the results, but we don't really understand what lead to the end results.
It's what I have learned in my own grief. I need to know the gory details of how she died, not only for my own health. But because without those details, I can't grieve. That knowledge was kept from me as a child. I was just told that mommy died. I wasn't offered any information beyond that and it wasn't until later in life when I could put together the peices that I was able to finally begin mourning the loss of my mother.
And this, dear friends, is why we must understand what happened. We must talk about those things that make us uncomfortable in order to heal. We must talk about these systems so that we can figure out how in the world we might change them.
Only then can there be a new heaven and a new earth. Then, we will pave the streets with gold. Oh! I can't wait.