What and why I will never forget

I have been really struggling with the meme that is going around on social media that directly links our perceived current “Godlessness” with the horrific shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School.  I have taken a few days to process why it bother me, and to figure out how to express it.

I understand the need to make sense of this tragedy, I am still struggling to do so myself.  I understand the need to look to religion/faith for answers, I find myself also wanting to know there is some grand order in the midst of human chaos.
But, there is an unspoken assertion that is being delivered along with the “Godless Nation” meme that seems to be everywhere right now.   And that assertion is what keeps me uncomfortable and struggling and saddened and disturbed.

The assumption is that in fact there was a time when we were less Godless and because of  that, less violent atrocities were being directed at innocents.  This has actually never been the case.  The romanticized notion of religion and its role in our country/world is at best misleading and at worst disrespectful  and dishonorable.  Why?  Because with that meme, we allow ourselves to effectively forget all of the human beings that suffered and died during a time we look back at as “more religious.”  Slavery, the Holocaust,  Japanese internment camps, mob lynchings, church bombings,  ignored pedophilia and child rape, etc….   All of these things happened at a time when prayer WAS allowed in school, when church attendance was regular, and when we would have called ourselves a God-Fearing country.  In fact, many of these atrocities were actually perpetrated by those who would have proudly told you that they attended church regularly.

Every year I light a candle to remember the 6 million Jews (men, women, and children) who were slaughtered.  But I also light that candle to remember countless other human beings of different races, nationalities, and religions who also lost their lives due to hatred, ignorance, intolerance, and arrogance. I take the call to “never forget” very seriously as a human being and as a mother.

I, personally, will not engage in a popular, perhaps comforting, meme that subversively allows us to forget our violent past, and its victims.  I will not forget these Newtown children and their teachers. I will not forget the families in Connecticut that have been devastated. But I will also not forget that it has happened before many times.  I will not forget the history of those other shattered lives and families either. I will bear witness to our history of killing and fear, even while we look back dreamily and called ourselves “religious.”

AND  I will not forget that the answer lies in the honest remembering, the teaching our children about accurate history, and in the one-on-one taking care of each other regardless of our faith, or lack there of, publicly displayed, or privately practiced.

WE make the decisions that make our world safer, or more dangerous, for each other.  This is the decision I make….I will not look to our past with rose-colored glasses.  I will weep, and feel it, and I will never forget.

~ by April on December 19, 2012.

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