There can be few people who haven’t heard the dreadful reports of the school shootings in Connecticut. This awful news hits the world as many Chinese are also rocked by a similar attack in a school there, by somebody wielding a knife. These events are unimaginable for most of us. How such things can happen is beyond comprehension. What drives a person to such an act of wanton slaughter? I dare say that we’ll learn more as time passes, but the fact remains that these terrible events have taken place and too many lives have been taken, so much potential wiped out. It is only natural that our hearts grieve.
For many years, the approach of Christmas has been received with mixed feelings by myself, for one. December sees far too many tragedies, and too many linked to criminal behaviour. From the family whose home is burglarised, depriving them of the gifts they may have barely managed to afford, to acts so heinous we can’t truly comprehend them. Homes are consumed in fires, traffic accidents steal lives or leave behind crippled bodies, people lonely beyond endurance commit the ultimate act of violence against themselves and commit suicide. These tragedies occur through accidents or acts of criminality, and sometimes in a combination of both, such as drunk drivers who bring their own form of criminal violence against random strangers. Of course such things happen at other times of the year, but they always seem to build to a crescendo in the run up to Christmas.
What does it say about us? The same tragedies every December. The ruination of a time of hope and love in the blink of an eye. We implore each other to behave better, to be more careful, to be more caring of others. And every year, without fail, the pattern is repeated. The sense of personal invulnerability we all enjoy is utterly false. Personally, the thought of losing just one member of my family or a friend is unbearable. Others must feel the same. How many of you have been driven to hug your children as news of another tragedy has struck?
It troubles me. The night before last, I fell asleep on the sofa. I had the most vivid, memorable dream I can remember in ages. In that dream, it was a day of happiness, in which I was with a very young grandson, exploring a heathland. That grandson was named Tom, though I have no such grandchild. The happiness, however, turned to nightmare when I couldn’t find Tom. In the dream, I covered miles, from heath to shopping centre, trudging despairingly along major roads, always hunting. Not once did it occur to me to call the police or anybody else. The nightmare was wholly mine! And when I woke, the nightmare unfinished, I was still grieving for a lost child, a child who had never been real. Later, the dreadful events that unfolded in the real world seemed to somehow hit me more strongly because of that nightmare. I could probably figure out the causes of the dream, but it strikes me as a very strange coincidence with real events.
So many children, of all ages, were lost. I will grieve for them, in my own way. I won’t, however, expect the losses to bring changes. Next December will have its darkness, as always.