In the week since Adam Lanza killed 20 innocent young children and six heroic adults in the town of Newport, Connecticut, many people have proclaimed to know why it happened, or at least who or what to blame.
There are many degrees of truth, but no absolute truths, only absolute beliefs.
Informed only by the limited details reported ad nauseum by media, they’ve reached a conclusion.
Well, I’ve got news for them. For the most part, they’re wrong. They’re wrong because they point to one single answer as though it were the absolute truth. There is no single version of the truth. No One Right Answer. Not for Sandy Hook, not for the fiscal cliff, not for your business, not for a better relationship with your teenager. Truth is a compound substance composed of many beliefs. There is no pure element in the periodic table of life called Truth.
A litany of answers have been offered as to why Adam Lanza massacred 26 at Sandy Hook Elementary School. They are based on facts assembled into beliefs and packaged up as The Truth.
It happened because, take your pick: It was God’s will. The absence of God in schools.
Former Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee, now a pundit, proclaimed the cause to be the banning of organized prayer in public school. “Should we be so surprised that schools would become a place of carnage?”
B) Gun control
It’s the fault of lax gun laws and the National Rifle Association, a lobbying organization, because the NRA steadfastly affirms the right to bear arms includes semi-automatic assault weapons and refuses any sort of gun control.
Members of Westboro Baptist Church – called “the most obnoxious and rabid hate group in America” by the Southern Poverty Law Center – claim it is because some Americans accept those who are homosexual as full-fledged human beings deserving of respect.
D) Media coverage
Widespread media coverage following each mass killing makes certain people happy to kill, and to take their own lives, for 15 minutes of posthumous fame. If only the media didn’t cover these events, they would never happen.
E) Mental health care
Mental health care is woefully inadequate, expensive, and hard to get. Liza Long wrote in the Blue Review an eloquent and passionate explanation called “I Am Adam Lanza’s Mother.” In part, she said, “In the wake of another horrific national tragedy, it’s easy to talk about guns. But it’s time to talk about mental illness…. But this highly visible sign of mental illness should lead us to consider how many people in the U.S. live in fear, like I do.”
F) Political unwill
Politicians on the left urge action towards meaningful solutions, while those on the right continue to support unlimited access to any sort of gun by any person. “We’ve endured too many of these tragedies in the past few years,” President Obama said on television. “We’re going to have to come together and take meaningful action to prevent more tragedies like this, regardless of the politics.” Republican and former presidential candidate Rep. Michele Bachmann of Minnesota said Friday on a news program, “My favorite gun is an AR-15 because you can be so accurate with it.” One of the guns Lanza used was an AR-15, a semi-automatic .222.
In January 2011, following the mass shooting in Tucson, Arizona, that nearly killed former Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, NRA chief executive Wayne LaPierre said to a New York Times reporter, “It shouldn’t be a dialogue about guns; it really should be a dialogue about dangerous people. ” LaPierre refused to meet with the Obama White House, saying, “Why should I or the NRA go sit down with a group of people that have spent a lifetime trying to destroy the Second Amendment in the United States?”
Here’s my answer. In this event and in so much of our lives, there is no single version of the truth. There is no bright line that shows us when we cross from truthdom into falsehood. Truth, like beauty, is in the eye of the beholder.
Even lies can serve as truth, as in the case of Sandy Hook teacher Victoria Soto. After quickly hiding her students in cabinets and cupboards, she told Adam Lanza they were in gym class. Her lie saved their lives. It’s hard to condemn that lie, isn’t it?
We all have the right to speak our own truth, to be true to our beliefs, and to be true to others who are in our lives, as Victoria Soto and Liza Long did. Our viewpoints have some component of truth, that is all. We speak from our beliefs. From our experience. We speak our own truths.
It’s only natural that we find some statements disagreeable, or even abhorrent. Some truths may not be relevant in that there is no cause-and-effect relationship between them and a particular belief.
This is why it is so important to have open and honest conversations, to engage in sharing our truths with one another. And to listen to each other with the intention of understanding, without condoning or condemning.
I know this much is true: we have the right to tell our own truth. We have the right to hear the truth as it is told by others. This is my Eighth Amendment.
Life Is Honest, Open and True
What about you, do you struggle as I do to tell your own truth or to hear the truth as others know it to be? How do you cope with the challenge?