Today, a mass shooting at an elementary school in Conneticut claimed the lives of children, teachers, and a profoundly troubled gunman. Old and young. Innocent and guilty. Too many lives cut short, too few answers as to "why".
We live in a world that can sometimes seem very dark. A quick look at the news of the week, even prior to this tragedy, reflects this all too well. The violence in Syria seems without end. Protests continue in Egypt. North Korea conducted a successful missile test, quite possibly with the help of Iran.
But on a day when our collective shortcomings are all too real to us, it's important to pause. Reflect. And remember: we are not defined by the actions of the worst of us, but by the courage and compassion of the best of us. The people who devote themselves to service of the poor. The members of our military who put their lives on the line to defend those they've never met, and likely never will.
We must also decide just how we want to live our lives. How we want our children to live theirs. Do we want to be consumed by our anger and bitterness, dart from our houses to our cars, live our lives in fear? I don't. And I don't want my son to, either.
We need more goodness in the world, not less. More kindness, more bravery, more hope. We can't let madmen rob us of everything that makes us different from them.
Even those of us who don't pray as a matter of course, are praying today. Including me. I am praying for the people who were affected by this terrible crime, a circle that includes all of us. Praying for our civic leaders to find a way to address events like this. Praying for peace.
Mostly, though, I'm praying for the strength to teach my son to walk through a frightening world with his head held high. Children are our future, the best of what we have to offer the world. We must prepare them to face it with dignity and even- especially- today, with hope.