28

A display hanging in the business area
of town in Newtown, Ct.
I don't mean to start a fight, but rather point out an opportunity.

28 people died this week in the tragic events in Connecticut.

I am seeing talk of 26 people in the school whose lives we need to remember, and I wouldn't disagree... what happened to those 26 people shouldn't have happened. They were children... they were adults taking care of children. There are no words to describe how "not okay" any of this is.

Even as I write this, I'm literally choking back tears thinking of what has occurred.

There is also the gunman's mother who died in her home... that's 27.

There's also one further ugly issue we need to wrestle with... and since this is a leadership blog, take it in accordingly because you are a leader to someone - even if it is yourself.

The shooter's life mattered to God, too.

28 people died.

The moment we forget that is the moment we say one person's life doesn't matter - and the moment we let that happen is the moment we start to become a part of the very mindset that the shooter was operating with.

Think about that.

Seriously, seriously think about that.

His thinking was broken... and so is ours if we'd rather write off a real person as a villainous character we don't need to care about versus an individual whose life ended up its own tragedy before creating a tragedy for others. You may have heard the same interviews I did - he rode the bus with his brother growing up and seemed like an "average kid."

An "average kid." Maybe that's too scary to admit... that no temptation seized him except the same temptations that are common to all of us in varying forms:
  • The tendency to destroy someone verbally that we disagree with.
  • The way we like to make everyone from politicians to pastors someone we can throw stones at without caring for them.
  • The manner in which we talk about one another online, by text, over the phone or in person.
  • The moment that you push back physically on someone who's pushed you emotionally... or create a smear campaign... or... fill in the blank, because you know what you do.

Some of you may remember a similar issue with Columbine... would the students who did the shooting there get to be buried with the rest of those who died... and so on.

I can't believe we have to wrestle with these types of questions, but we do... or it will happen again.

Wherever you fall on this issue, I would encourage you to consider the impact of your words online and in person.  I know I'm taking a risk even in sharing this here because it is timely.

Perhaps because it's timely, though, it's worth taking that risk so we remember this from the foundation up. Everyone's life matters. We need to come alongside of hurting and broken people, as much as hurts and breaks us.

By no means am I suggesting there shouldn't be discipline in place when people cross a line that shouldn't be crossed.

What I am suggesting is that 28 people died.

A wise friend made an additional observation:
I am stunningly heart-broken for the surviving brother of the shooter, as well. I have mutual friends with him, he received HORRIFIC Facebook messages - from people who believed he was both the shooter and dead - after he was mistakenly named by authorities as the gunman. He lost 2 family members yesterday and learned about it that way, having been in class as it all unfolded. Pray for Ryan, too.
Perhaps the answer to the problem we're all trying to sort through is the difference between 27 and 28.

Will you be the "1" who checks the math?
"You see, at just the right time, when we were still powerless, Christ died for the ungodly." (Romans 5:6)

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