For anyone who loves kids, yesterday’s horror in Connecticut was even more painful than the recent shootings in Colorado and Arizona. When I first read about it, I didn’t want to believe it and hoped that (the) initial reports (I read) were wrong. I became almost numb when I learned that they were not.
At times like these, words often fail us. We struggle to express the sadness we feel as we struggle to understand how man could do this to his fellows, particularly those so young, children who have just begun to taste life. And we feel anger, anger that this has happened, anger that someone could do this — and we want to direct our anger at some target so we can better make sense of the horror.
So must our ancestors have reacted throughout human history to the perennial problem of man’s inhumanity to man. Each of us finds difference ways to grapple with something we cannot understand. And perhaps that is why the image of hell (in its various manifestations) has long resonated with people from a great variety of backgrounds, honoring and worshipping a great variety of deities.
“Gehenna, a synonym for Hell,” John Podhoretz wrote yesterday in Commentary
. . . was revived today in Newton, Connecticut, where as many as 20 children at last report were slaughtered in an elementary school this morning.
We learn in the book of Kings that in the seventh century BCE, the prophet Jeremiah demanded that King Josiah destroy the idolator’s temple in Gehenna to prevent more sacrifices to Moloch. We can presume from the newsworthiness of this act that child sacrifice was once a relatively common practice in the ancient Middle East, as we know it to have been in other pagan cultures.
. . . .
The idea that civilization is dedicated to the protection and preservation the weak and the innocent, and not about fulfilling evil impulses to defile and destroy innocence, is the root and core of the West. One cannot conceive of anything more monstrous than a person or persons who could look small children in the eye and systematically shoot them dead. Which is why this crime, among the worst crimes in American history, is not just an assault on the children, or their families, or the town of Newtown—though it is all those things. [Read more…]