The Uninvited


I hope I never have any connection to a tragedy like this ever again. In my 53 years, this is the first time that the death of a child has dominated my thoughts the way this has.  But this isn’t about me or my feelings at all.

I speak of the death of a two year old little boy, whose family shall go nameless here for their sake, by accidental drowning a few days ago. The grief the family must bear has to be so vast that I can’t get my mind around it. I have a son who’s 17 and I couldn’t begin to imagine a life without him. Now I consider myself wonderfully blessed for having had this much time with him, as he grows into a manhood that my friend and co-worker’s son will never know.

For in the day of trouble
he will keep me safe in his dwelling;
he will hide me in the shelter of his tabernacle
and set me high upon a rock. Psalm 27:5

I try to recall scripture verses to comfort others in dark times of their lives. This had become my habit since recommitting my life to Jesus Christ five years ago. The Psalm verse above was what I sent the child’s father. I don’t know him all that well, save a few personal exchanges in the course of the workday,  but I feel an intense need to reach out to him and his wife and daughter to give them a little hope, joy, and peace during this stressful and tumultuous moment in their lives.

I believe what the Scriptures say with all my heart, mind, soul, and strength but I am useless and feeble, I am afraid, when trying to express these sentiments to grieving people whose faith may not be as intense. When I tried to persuade my co-worker that his son was preparing a place in the heavenly kingdom many of us await he said, “oh I hope so”.

You might be asking about the uninvited and I don’t blame you. Sometimes it takes a paragraph for me to come to the point.

The day after the toddler passed on, the local newspaper came out on line with the story as one would expect. A follow-up with the names of family members came out soon thereafter. A brief  investigation by local law enforcement ensued and quickly concluded that the drowning was an accident.

I read the newspaper on-line since it is free and I no longer see any value in spending hard-earned money on the hard-copy variety. I guess every on-line paper has some version of this: where at the end of each major story, the reader’s comments are actually invited and retained within certain editorial guidelines. I was enraged by what I saw!  It takes a lot to get my ire up and this made me go from 0 to 10 in nothing flat.

I have since learned that the people who make ugly, unnecessary, sometimes evil and sarcastic remarks online in response to stories like these, or any other for that matter, are called Trolls. I started to call the newspaper to speak with the editor of the online edition. I wanted to see if the comments could be pulled and no new ones added but then I remembered my agency’s policy against unauthorized press contact. I decided to call my bosses, who followed up by contacting our press office. In turn, the press officer said that it was all in a day’s work for this to go on and there was really nothing for them to do since the agency wasn’t involved.   I looked at the rest of the on-line stories that day and found the same people, with the same on-line poison pen names commenting on every single story in that days edition!  Even the ones with positive things happening and good things coming to those who made a decent contribution to the lives of someone met with the same venomous and visceral treatment by these Trolls.

Well, now I know better than to look.  I have concluded that First Amendment or not, these are sick, sad, depraved people so self absorbed in the joyless nothingness of their existence, that they must resort to this as some way of giving meaning to their lives. Pitiable, really. When I run across the poisonous negativity of people, as I often seem to, I am reminded of what the apostle Paul said in his letter to the Romans:

Furthermore, since they did not think it worthwhile to retain the knowledge of God, he gave them over to a depraved mind, to do what ought not to be done.  They have become filled with every kind of wickedness, evil, greed and depravity. They are full of envy, murder, strife, deceit and malice. They are gossips,  slanderers, God-haters, insolent, arrogant and boastful; they invent ways of doing evil; they disobey their parents;  they are senseless, faithless, heartless, ruthless.

God only knows if these are part of the body of depraved minds I now call Trolls. I pray that, for them, it is not too late to find beauty and peace, and wisdom which only comes with the Spirit-filled life I have been blessed to live in these past few years.

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