03 February 2008

What Children Become

Lately the news has been somber. I've been following what is happening in Kenya--the killings and the terror that seems to have taken hold of that country--and I can't help but be speechless in the face of it. I've heard stories of children and their families barricaded into their homes and burned to death. It seems as though every day there is some new story--world-class athletes being targeted for death, children cut down by machetes, whole villages terrorized. It sickens me and leaves me numb with disbelief and sadness. And Wonder.

Because the thing that I fail to be able to understand--despite knowing that history is filled with stories of horror and violence--is how these things happen. How is it that children can grow into monsters. Sure, there are those cases where a child is abused or neglected or something traumatic happens and changes the life of a child. But I have to think that for the vast majority of these cases, these people who are capable of doing such unspeakable things to other humans were once children.

These were once infants held and rocked in the arms of their mothers. Their births were life changing moments for the people around them. Strangers looked at them and smiled at the preciousness of new life, coochie-cooing over their prams or bassinet's. These people, capable of killing innocent children in horrific ways were once children themselves. And I can't quite get my head around how that sort of transformation happens.

But the thing that I find incomprehensible is that, for the most part, these transformations happen all the time- in all places. The same day that I heard about Olympic runners from Kenyan being hunted down, the Chicago news had a story about a car-jacking where a 1 year old baby was killed. The car-jacker knew that the baby was there when he went after the car, but rather than abandon the child with the car, he killed it. A gunshot. In a tiny body.

These are things that keep me up at night, my mind racing. How do you protect your child from this sort of horror--horror and violence that can happen anywhere, at any time? How do you keep your sweet and wonderful little boy from changing into something unrecognizable? How do you reconcile a God that is supposed to be kind and merciful, loving and parental, with a world in which such unspoken horrors exist? How do you keep your children safe?

And how do you keep your mind from racing at night after hearing story after a story that you are unable to do anything about?

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