Franz Kafka tells the story of a little girl who was late arriving home one day. Her mother asked her where she was. The girl said that she saw her friend Ruthie on her way home, and Ruthie’s doll had broken. “Did you help her fix it?” her mother asked. “No,” the girl replied, “I don’t know how to fix it. I stopped to help her cry.”
As we heard the news about the horrific school shooting in Florida, we can sympathize with Kafka’s little girl. We can stand by and support those who have lost children in a town very much like our own. But we also do know something about how to fix it. We need stricter gun laws and better enforcement of those laws. We need to change a culture that glorifies violence. We need to listen to the students who know firsthand the dangers our laws can prevent. We need to act.
We may not know how to fix, or even explain, the evil that causes a person to shoot innocent young children. But we do know we can do more to prevent such acts from happening.
Collecting the Pieces
Perhaps we can also take some guidance from the words of the 18th century Rabbi Nachman of Breslov. He once saw a man whose house had burnt down. The man had been crying terribly about his losses. As he began looking through the rubble, he found bits and pieces of wood and metal to start rebuilding. One by one he made a pile of pieces.
Rabbi Nathan said, “See how he is collecting pieces to rebuild. Even when we think there is no hope, we are already collecting pieces to rebuild.” Let’s follow our students’ lead and start collecting the pieces to rebuild our culture and our country.
– Rabbi Evan Moffic