From Facebook posts to news accounts to candlelight vigils, the people of our country have come together over the horror that took place Friday morning in Newtown, Conn. And rightly so. Condolences have been expressed by world leaders. The unspeakable killings of innocent children and teachers have deeply touched people here and around the world.
I remember similar outpourings following the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001. But I also remember the words of an international guest at our 2002 triennial gathering. She respectfully told the women gathered there that while she grieved along with us in America when those horrible events unfolded, she and the people in her country–and in many countries around the globe–experienced similar horrors daily. And the same is true regarding children dying.
It is calculated that today around 21,000 children will die because of poverty, malnutrition or disease. Children around the world are the innocent victims of war. UNICEF reported in 1996 that 2 million children were killed in war in the previous decade and another 4-5 million disabled. Whether or not those statistics have changed in recent years, any innocent life lost in war is just as unconscionable as the death of 20 children and their six teachers.
As Women of the ELCA we commit ourselves to bring about healing and wholeness in the church, the society and the world. Will the shootings in Newtown move us beyond platitudes to seriously work for such healing and wholeness, for the benefit of all of God’s children around the world?
Linda Post Bushkofsky is executive director of Women of the ELCA.