December 19, 2012


By Neal A. Shipman
Farmer Editor

For most of us, the rash of rampage shootings that have occurred around the United States in the past month defies logic. Like so many people, I cannot put my arms around why anyone in their right mind would go into a mall in Oregon and open fire on unsuspecting people? Or for that matter why would anyone in their right mind shoot off 50+ rounds in a mall parking lot in California. And most recently, why would anyone in their right mind, enter an elementary school in Connecticut and kill 20 students as well as six teachers and administrators?
The answer, of course, is people in their right mind don’t do such things. It is people who are mentally unstable who do these kinds of horrific acts. And that is why normal and rational people find these acts of violence so unsettling, and desperately seek answers to why these people became so violent.
All three of the incidents mentioned above have occurred within the last week. And again, we want desperately to understand why people would turn their anger or hatred on others, especially innocent children, at Christmas time
Unfortunately, the answers that we are learning are elusive and troubling. Of the three shooters mentioned above, two are dead, so there is only speculation as to their motives. But what is known is that all three of the individuals involved were apparently normal individuals until something pushed them over the edge.
So who or what is to blame for this kind of violent act?
Some will blame guns and say that it is time for the country to enact tougher gun controls. Others are blaming Hollywood for producing violent movies and video game makers for designing violent games that dehumanize killing. Other say blame doctors, social workers and psychiatrists for not alerting law enforcement officials of potentially unstable individuals who have mental health issues and may become violent.
Whenever something as shocking as the shootings in Newtown, Connecticut occurs, we want to be able to say that if only the country would do ‘this’ or ‘that,’ we could prevent such a horrific act from ever happening again. But so long as we have people who wish to take out their frustrations, anger or hostility on others by killing them, it is going to be very difficult for us as a country, or a society, to stop them. We can try to make it more and more difficult for them to do it, but in the end, they will find a way to accomplish their goal.
As I close this week’s column, I’d like to share with you an e-mail that I received on Monday morning. The poem was written by Cameo Smith of Mt. Wolf, Penn., in memory of the children killed in Newton, Conn.
’Twas 11 days before Christmas
’Twas 11 days before Christmas, around 9:38
when 20 beautiful children stormed through heaven’s gate.
Their smiles were contagious, their laughter filled the air.
They could hardly believe all the beauty they saw there.
They were filled with such joy, they didn’t know what to say.
They remembered nothing of what had happened earlier that day.
“Where are we?” asked a little girl, as quiet as a mouse.
“This is heaven,” declared a small boy. “We’re spending Christmas at God’s house.”
When what to their wondering eyes did appear,
but Jesus, their Savior, the children gathered near.
He looked at them and smiled, and they smiled just the same.
Then He opened His arms and He called them by name.
And in that moment was joy, that only heaven can bring.
Those children all flew into the arms of their King
and as they lingered in the warmth of His embrace,
one small girl turned and looked at Jesus’ face.
And as if He could read all the questions she had
He gently whispered to her, “I’ll take care of mom and dad.”
Then He looked down on earth, the world far below.
He saw all of the hurt, the sorrow, and woe.
Then He closed His eyes and He outstretched His hand,
“Let My power and presence re-enter this land!”
“May this country be delivered from the hands of fools.”
“I’m taking back my nation. I’m taking back my schools!”
Then He and the children stood up without a sound.
“Come now my children, let me show you around.”
Excitement filled the space, some skipped and some ran.
All displaying enthusiasm that only a small child can.
And I heard Him proclaim as He walked out of sight,
“In the midst of this darkness, I AM STILL THE LIGHT.”