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Fear is a useful tool we’ve evolved to save ourselves from big scary monsters that want to devour us.
There are no monsters now though, we’ve killed the beasts, save the ones we grow in our own hearts and minds. We’ve slain the dragons, then we became the dragons. It’s probably our most formidable foe, right? Our selves.
On the radio, they profiled a company that offers training for what to do in the event of an active shooter. The owner of the company shared that it was only after Sandy Hook that his business took off—from schools, to churches and public/government buildings—he is providing a valuable service to our society. My chest tightened as I listened. I could feel the monster in my heart turning over.
My son was always especially sensitive to monsters, but no monster scared him more than Darth Vader. Once a noble Jedi, Vader let go of his humanity and became the thing that was in his heart—darkness. Vader tormented my young son, who saw him in his nightmares every night. How could a man, a regular man, become so cruel? My boy, who with his child’s heart, still believed that the monsters were beasts and dragons, couldn’t understand Vader’s metamorphosis. But he was Luke’s father! he would argue, futilely.
There’s something lost in a child, I’ve seen it now, when the realization dawns on them, that the monsters we must face are each other. And us. That we feed them with rage and hate and oppression. That we corner our hearts and beat them until they snarl and bite. My instinct is to save them from that, but it’s futile also, because they have active shooting drills at their elementary school now. I can’t bring myself to imagine it even—their tiny bodies huddled in the art supply closet.
Fear is a useful tool, but I don’t want them to be afraid. I want them to be fully realized human creatures, with joyful and forgiving hearts. I want them to love themselves enough, that the monsters in them have nothing to eat and slink away into the night. I want them to dance, to learn, to laugh, and to cheer for their movie heroes. I want them to be safe from it all. I want to save them.
And I pray for all who could not be saved.