With the latest tragedy in Oklahoma, I can understand how a religious person might equate the victims killed by the tornado on May 20th to angels being called to heaven. Based on the photos displayed on social networks and flashed on CNN, along with their biographies, they are all luminous beings akin to angels. The same for the children and teachers murdered at Sandy Hook, the victims of the Boston bombing, and those killed by the recent tornadoes that touched down in North Texas.
As man-made and natural tragedies assail us, we often feel scared, confused and alone. Many look upward seeking comfort and understanding. Why take the children, God? Allah, why sacrifice teachers who work so hard for so little pay? Why, Shiva, do innocent people have to die such tragic, unprovoked deaths?
While I consider myself a spiritual rather than a religious person, I have also looked to heaven for the answers as I imagine people have been doing since the beginning of time. After all, tragedy is not solely reserved for the post-9/11 world. Natural disasters have been occurring since dinosaurs roamed the earth. Men have sought to control and conquer way before Hitler.
Perhaps its human nature to look to heaven to justify when hardship and devastation occur. After all, going at this alone is way too frightening. There has to be a higher being looking over us and protecting us.
While I may look to heaven again when the next bomb explodes, the next child murders another child, the next image of genocide flashes on my TV, and when the next storm barrels through the next town, there is something else I will do. I will look to the person next to me.
I know this because I have seen the battered bodies of the first responders, the eyes of the teachers who shielded their students from harm, and the heroism of the doctors, nurses and paramedics who aided on the front lines of disasters. I have seen the tearful reunions of soldiers and their families. People putting others’ needs before their own. People acting without thought to rescue someone in peril. People being polite, and attentive, and solicitous, and caring in their every day lives and not just when disaster strikes.
So, I make this call for a civilized society one person at a time. I’m not saying this will stop the natural disasters or the malicious people of this world from taking innocent lives. But then again, maybe it will.
Instead of more angels in heaven, how about more angels on earth? While some may look for help from above, let’s know for sure we’re not going at this alone right here at home.