Love Actually Is All Around

One of our Christmas traditions is watching the movie Love Actually. We watched it on Saturday, the day after the horrible massacre at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, CT. The opening lines of the film struck me more than usual with the news fresh in my mind.

“Whenever I get gloomy with the state of the world, I think about the arrivals gate at Heathrow Airport. General opinion’s starting to make out that we live in a world of hatred and greed, but I don’t see that. It seems to me that love is everywhere. Often, it’s not particularly dignified or newsworthy, but it’s always there – fathers and sons, mothers and daughters, husbands and wives, boyfriends, girlfriends, old friends. When the planes hit the Twin Towers, as far as I know, none of the phone calls from the people on board were messages of hate or revenge – they were all messages of love. If you look for it, I’ve got a sneaking suspicion… love actually is all around.”

As horrible as the massacre at Sandy Hook was – and make no mistake, nothing is more tragic than the brutal murder of so many young children – tragedy befalls this nation everyday. When a mother loses her infant to SIDS does she grieve any less? When a husband loses his wife to a drunk driver crossing the center line is his world not turned upside down? No, yet these moments are rarely covered in the media and certainly not on a national level. And this isn’t to say that the media shouldn’t have covered Sandy Hook or that they should cover the more “everyday” occurrences of tragedy. News is news because it is novel; something out of the ordinary. But as we watch these tragedies unfold we should be mindful that the novelty which brought their coverage is a reminder that “love actually is all around.” If the world really was filled with hatred and greed instead of love and charity these tragedies would be more commonplace, we’d be desensitized to them, and the media would be covering something else.

So grieve the children of Sandy Hook. But at the same time, and perhaps to a greater extent, celebrate the heroism of people like teacher Victoria Soto and therapist Rachel Davino, who were so full of love for their first grade students that they gave their lives protecting them. Celebrate six-year old Jack Pinto who was, in the words of his family, an “inspiration to all those who knew him.” His family also added that they would not dwell “on the loss but instead on the gift that we were given and will forever cherish in our hearts forever.”

Life is short no matter how long we live and every day should be cherished as a gift. Those days or moments that are extraordinarily good we should celebrate even more. And these moments don’t have to be newsworthy, although perhaps they should be. They can be the smile that lifts someone’s spirits on a dreary day. They can be the latte purchased by the person in front of you at the drive-thru. Many times they even rise to the level of newsworthiness, as did this story about a cop giving a motorist much more than a citation.

We may never truly know all the motives behind the tragedies that befall society but one hypothesis is fame. Even though these monsters often turn the gun on themselves in the end, perhaps realizing the magnitude of their act, it seems some do it for the attention they will receive. A Facebook post originally attributed to Morgan Freeman, despite being a hoax in some sense, nonetheless speaks the truth. The post ends by encouraging readers to “help by forgetting you ever read this man’s name, and remembering the name of at least one victim… You can help by turning off the news.”

I’ll go one further. We should encourage and spread good news, if we choose to make famous not the cowards hiding behind an arsenal of guns but the heroes that step in front of them perhaps our young people will grow up aspiring to this kind of fame instead. And I’ll say it, we could certainly benefit from some more solid morality in society. As a friend quipped, “some people ask how God could allow something so tragic to happen in a grade school; perhaps it is because God is no longer allowed in schools.”

What Are We Supposed to Do When the System Is Broken?

This morning Laura Ingraham ran a story about Michigan abortion doctor Abraham Hodari who continues to practice despite countless instances of forced abortions and even, what one might generously label, the negligent homicides of four young girls.

And then there’s Maurice Clemmons and his cold-blooded murder of four Lakewood Police Officers yesterday.

What do these two tragic cases have in common? They represent a failure of the system. I don’t have some grand illusion that life is supposed to be fair. There are some sick folks out there and sometimes really bad things happen to really good people. It may be tragic but it’s life. The grand illusion that I do carry around is that, while life may not be fair, government should be. And by that I mean government needs to uphold and enforce laws that help to prevent tragedies like those I just mentioned.

The crimes committed by Hodari and Clemmons should never have happened. Hodari should have, at the very least, been stripped of his medical credentials long ago for forcibly aborting pregnancies. In my opinion he should be spending several years as a guest of the Michigan State Penal System. Clemmons should not have been released on a scant $150,000 bail after being charged with child rape. He, too, should, at the very least, be awaiting his rape trial in a Pierce County Jail.

But neither of them are and what are we left with? Who knows how many more young girls may be forced to go through abortions before Hodari is stopped? In the case of Clemmons I suspect justice will eventually be served and he’ll be placed behind bars without the possibility of parole but I doubt this will be the last time that innocent people must die at the hands of a felon walking free. So I ask you, what are we suppose to do?

Some may say, “Well, we still need to rely on the system. Sure it may have some kinks but it’s still the best on Earth.” Others may advocate reform at the ballot box. I’d certainly hope that whatever idiot judge that granted Clemmons bail be retired as soon as possible, but is any of this really enough?

I’ll add one more name to the list: Khalid Sheik Muhammad. What is this guy doing receiving a criminal trial? He’s already admitted to planning 9/11. Why is he not already six feet under? All the criminal trial is going to do is serve as an opportunity to plead not guilty on the grounds that either a) only 2800 people died on 9/11, not the 3000 that the government is charging him with or more likely b) everyone that died on 9/11 deserved it because they were infidels. Either way he’ll use the time to rail against the evils of the very country that is allowing him the opportunity to do so.

This can’t continue indefinitely. We can’t keep relying on “the system”. I’m not advocating blind vigilantism. As much as I can empathize with someone who takes the law into his own hands and blows away the guy that raped his daughter, it’s not right. I don’t agree with the guy that murdered abortion doctor George Tiller either. Abortion is still, unfortunately, legal and, to the best of my knowledge Dr. Tiller, while a despicable human being, wasn’t so despicable as to forcibly abort any of his patients’ pregnancies. But when “justice has been served” and the verdict is not guilty on account of the guy didn’t get read his Miranda Rights or, as in the case of Dr. Hodari, he laughs at his accusers because he believes he’s above the law (and apparently rightfully so if you go by the State of Michigan’s actions) what must be done? At what point do we concede that the government is not doing its job and feel well within our rights to take matters into our own hands.

In many states, Washington included, we have the Castle Law, which allows homeowners to shoot dead anyone that enters their house and poses a threat to their safety. And there are other instances where we, as private citizens, are completely within our rights to take lethal force against someone who is threatening us or someone around us. So, if someone who is a known killer, either because there is undisputed evidence clearly indicating that they are beyond any doubt, or because they’ve admitted to it themselves, and the government lets them go because of a technicality, do we just sit around and wait until they are in the process of committing another murder (or, in the case of Dr. Hodari, manslaughter is probably the more appropriate charge but, either way, he’s still killed someone), or, given the opportunity, do we prevent further murder by any means possible? Again, I’m not advocating blind, vigilante justice but surely there is a point at which private citizens can not rely on government. I’m not saying we’re there yet but the discussion needs to occur if people like Hodari and Clemmons are walking free and enemies of war are being afforded the same rights as common criminals.