Why Did God Let It Happen?


Yesterday Wolf Blitzer of CNN asked a rabbi and a pastor in Newtown, Conn., “How could God let this [shooting of children] happen?”  My answer is this:  God gave us free will; we use it; he doesn’t interfere.

The shooter’s parents used their free will to get a divorce, leaving the shooter without an adult male role model.  How much did the parents do to keep their marriage?  Did they face each other with animosity, or did they turn to stand shoulder-to-shoulder and face the world?  Did they focus on the good they could do in the world, or did they focus on the harm they could do to each other?

Television news film shows the house the shooter lived in with his mother:  it’s really big.  The mother—and probably the father—used their free will to buy and maintain a house that only was occupied by two people.  A portion of the house could have been rented at a low rate to a low-income family.  If you see a house that size on the Southside of Syracuse, it is typically occupied by a dozen people, not two.  Why didn’t Mom share?

Mom used her free will to buy guns and teach her son how to shoot.  She could have bought blankets and taught her son how to cover the homeless.  She could have bought food and had her son help her carry it into food pantries.  She could have moved to a house half the size and taught her son how to donate to the world’s impoverished children who need clean drinking water, food, shelter and education.  She could have done that; she used her free will not to.

It is reported that the shooter had autism.  Autism is a neurological disorder, nevertheless, it is listed in psychiatry’s DSM (Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders).  Autism does not cause people to become murderers, nor do mental disorders cause people to become violent.  Studies show that people who are violent and become mentally ill continue to act violently; likewise, people who are not violent and become mentally ill continue to be nonviolent.  But—and this is a freaking big but—drugs make people violent.  Mental illness does not make people violent; the drugs used to treat mental illness make people violent.

CNN has been doing 24-hour coverage of the shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School despite the fact that there has been very little new in the past 36 hours.  Have you been watching it?  Why?  Why not turn it off?  A five-minute digest morning and evening will tell you everything you need to know.  Why are you filling your head with the poison of violent death?

Some time ago, Anderson Cooper stopped glorifying the shooters.  He now names the shooter only once, then goes on to tell the stories of the lives and loves of those killed and the emergency responders.  On the East Coast, Anderson Cooper 360 is on Channel 22 at 8:00 and 10:00 p.m.  You can use your free will to choose the less damaging media program.

And that’s what this all comes down to:  you choose.  God and the U.S. Constitution call it freedom.  The only way I know to deal with these horrific events is to make healthy choices yourself.  Choose to be humble.  Choose to care for others.  Choose to tell the truth and to work for justice. 

You cannot fix a broken kid two thousand miles away.  You can’t slap any sense into his mother or take away the guns—well, maybe you can do that.  How about we ban all weapons that are not used to hunt animals?  You can have your guns for shooting rabbits, deer and coyotes but that’s all.  Handguns and attack weapons are out.  They are only used for shooting people and we’ve got to stop that.

You make choices every day and your choices impact both you and those around you.  You can choose to be nonviolent—to use language that is not violent, as well as not watching violence on television or in movies.  You can choose to be kind and helpful and loving.  You can choose church instead of hockey.  You can choose mediation instead of litigation.  You can choose to hug a kid instead of slapping a kid.

Every time you make a choice for kindness and caring you are using your free will.  Every time you choose respect and compassion, you are exercising your free will.  The recent shootings are the end result of a series of free will choices.  So are decorated Christmas trees, choir concerts and holiday dinners.  Every time you act with kindness, you decrease the meanness in the world.  I think God “let it happen” because he treats us like grownups and lets us experience the consequences of our choices.

So what are you going to choose today?  Are you going to choose isolation and selfishness or are you going to choose to care for other people in your community?

About annecwoodlen

I am a tenth generation American, descended from a family that has been working a farm that was deeded to us by William Penn. The country has changed around us but we have held true. I stand in my grandmother’s kitchen, look down the valley to her brother’s farm and see my great-great-great-great-great-grandmother Hannah standing on the porch. She is holding the baby, surrounded by four other children, and saying goodbye to her husband and oldest son who are going off to fight in the Revolutionary War. The war is twenty miles away and her husband will die fighting. We are not the Daughters of the American Revolution; we were its mothers. My father, Milton C. Woodlen, got his doctorate from Temple University in the 1940’s when—in his words—“a doctorate still meant something.” He became an education professor at West Chester State Teachers College, where my mother, Elizabeth Hope Copeland, had graduated. My mother raised four girls and one boy, of which I am the middle child. My parents are deceased and my siblings are estranged. My fiancé, Robert H. Dobrow, was a fighter pilot in the Marine Corps. In 1974, his plane crashed, his parachute did not open, and we buried him in a cemetery on Long Island. I could say a great deal about him, or nothing; there is no middle ground. I have loved other men; Bob was my soul mate. The single greatest determinate of who I am and what my life has been is that I inherited my father’s gene for bipolar disorder, type II. Associated with all bipolar disorders is executive dysfunction, a learning disability that interferes with the ability to sort and organize. Despite an I.Q. of 139, I failed twelve subjects and got expelled from high school and prep school. I attended Syracuse University and Onondaga Community College and got an associate’s degree after twenty-five years. I am nothing if not tenacious. Gifted with intelligence, constrained by disability, and compromised by depression, my employment was limited to entry level jobs. Being female in the 1960’s meant that I did office work—billing at the university library, calling out telegrams at Western Union, and filing papers at a law firm. During one decade, I worked at about a hundred different places as a temporary secretary. I worked for hospitals, banks, manufacturers and others, including the county government. I quit the District Attorney’s Office to manage a gas station; it was more honest work. After Bob’s death, I started taking antidepressants. Following doctor’s orders, I took them every day for twenty-six years. During that time, I attempted%2
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7 Responses to Why Did God Let It Happen?

  1. gold account says:

    Saturday Night Specials (SNSs) are small, cheap handguns. They have been the target of special control efforts in the past because it was claimed that they were the preferred weapon of criminals, and were especially useful for criminal purposes, based on the twin notions that they are especially concealable because of their small size, and that their low price makes them especially affordable for predominantly low-income criminals. The best available information indicates the following about SNSs. Only about 10-27% of crime handguns (in the 1970’s) fit the U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms (BATF) definition of SNSs (barrel length under three inches, .32 caliber or less, and price under $50 in mid-1970’s dollars). Thus, most crime handguns were not SNSs, nor did they claim a share even approaching a majority. Because only about 10% of violent crimes involve a handgun, SNSs are involved in only about 2-7% of all violent crimes. Further, the SNS share of crime guns appears to be no larger than the SNS share of the general civilian handgun stock – at least 20% of all handguns introduced into the general civilian stock were SNSs. Thus, there is no strong reason to believe that criminals are any more likely to use SNSs than noncriminal members of the general public are. More specifically, criminals are no more likely to use cheap or small caliber handguns than noncriminal gun owners. Therefore, there is no meaningful sense in which criminals can be said to “prefer” SNSs. On the other hand, there is some mixed sup- port for the idea that some criminals prefer short-barrelled handguns over longer-barrelled ones, though the weapons tend to be middle or large caliber and of good quality. At most, perhaps 7%, and more realistically 1-2%, of SNSs will ever be involved in even one violent crime. In sum, most handgun criminals do not use SNSs, and most SNSs are not owned or used for criminal purposes. In- stead, most are probably owned by poor people for protection.

  2. The fact that every article on domestic violence emphasizes repeatedly than men can be victims of women too is really misleading and is giving a lot of abusers the opportunity to beat the living daylights out of terrified pregnant women who are physically weaker than them, and then pretend to be the victim while calmly cooly talking to undereducated police officers. Meanwhile the woman is crying hysterically not knowing if the baby she tried to protect is alive or dead. It happened to me, and to the DV advocate I talked to too. Apparently as soon as arrest in DV cases becomes mandatory in a state, the number of women arrested jumps 800%. But almost all of those cases are dropped when they are determined to be self-defense. But they will try to trick you into pleading guilty at the arraignment. It’s not just a waste of taxpayer money but a total shame. Especially when the husband has a long history of violent crime like mine did and I never got so much as a traffic ticket. Now he has control of my pets which he has abused and all my stuff he likes to destroy to torture me. He’s just loving his new powers, and loving that he finally “got me back” for calling the police on him years ago when he hit me. If I break the no-contact order to save my pets or for any other reason then he can do anything he wants to me without consequence.

  3. gold account says:

    Violence is an age-old phenomenon. War, genocide, and death are cornerstones that define history. Yet in the 21st century, we are experiencing violence in ways never seen before. It may be in worldwide terrorist organizations, inner city and suburban gangs, or the disturbed teenager next door who takes his rage out on innocent classmates. Those who commit violence today, as Kathryn Seifert, Ph.D. explains in this book, are likely to be adults or adolescents who themselves witnessed violence as children or were abused or neglected in their early years. Childhood is a time when bonding with caregivers stimulates the formulation of behavioral regulation, interpersonal skills, moral development, brain development, and problem solving, and when it is interrupted Disrupted Attachments Patterns (DAP) can form. This means that today’s violent, neglected, psychologically unbalanced, and traumatized children are likely to be tomorrow’s dangers to society-that is, unless we can intervene to assess DAP and offer them appropriate therapy. Dr. Seifert offers personal insights from her over 30 years of experience in mental health, addictions, and criminal justice work to help other therapists, victims, and parents understand not only how children become violent, but illuminate the pathway to a violence-free future.

  4. The term “intimate partner violence” (IPV) is often used synonymously with domestic abuse/domestic violence. Family violence is a broader definition, often used to include child abuse , elder abuse , and other violent acts between family members.

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