Moving Forward: A Prayer for (Goode) Hope

This Blog is written by Zachary Goode, a sophomore at Wooster College.  It is one to be read slowly, to internalize the grief and pain and hurt, and also – the hope brought to us by a loving God, no matter what.

Right now it is 2:16 AM, on Thursday, February 15, 2024, and I can’t sleep.

Like many of you, I see the news and once again find myself disgusted by the country we have become. I’m awake not out of choice, though I finished watching V for Vendetta an hour ago. Maybe that’s got something to do with this, who knows.

What I do know is my stomach hurts, and I’m not sure why. It could have been the Dining Hall Cod I ate-that’s a pretty standard guess. But it could also be the fact that since 7:00 PM yesterday, I’ve been thinking about a conversation.

There’s another boy here, semi-interested in politics, with few other friends, who mostly goes by unnoticed. I’ll call him Michael. I talk to him once in a while, and I ask him about his day, classes, and such, to let him know that he is being seen. Polite, political, we take turns speaking and listening. He’s got moderate right wing beliefs, but doesn’t know a lot about some of the issues we discuss. I very much do not. I know more about politics than him, and often our conversations tend to involve me gently guiding him to understanding the broader scope of an issue. He and I are both aware of our differences, yet these discussions are polite debates.

Tonight at dinner, after everyone else around the table had left, we sat and discussed the news. A shooting at a Super Bowl celebration, a parade, with several hundred police in attendance. Children in the hospital, innocent people killed. At this point it seems as though there is a checklist: A Colorado mall, a Pennsylvania synagogue, Latin night in a club, a South Carolina Bible study, and more often than conscionable, a classroom. And finally, the Super Bowl. The list drags on, and the bodies count higher than we like to know.

We sat at this table, and talked. He, like many Americans, likes guns. And as we talked, he remarked that as I was aspiring to politics, I needed a stance, if not a solution, to the problem. In his words, “there needs to be a balance” between gun rights and mental health. I agreed. After all, compromise is the key to a functioning political system, and my solution involved a compromise. I won’t get into the details here, but I can tell you later if you want.

I explained my solution, and he agreed. But after that, he asked me, “To play Devil’s advocate, if you were a politician and a voter asked you about you restricting their second amendment rights, what would you say?”

And I started to talk, but I had to stop. For the first time in that conversation, I was at a loss for words. Not because I lacked an answer, but because it had been staring me in the face the whole time and I hadn’t said it once.

“It’s necessary because I, my siblings, my friends, and my peers have all been taught that we are worth less than a weapon of war”.

You see, I was raised on ALICE drills, and you’ve all heard the stories by now. “Students, hide in the corners, lock the doors, and those who will fight, get weapons and watch the door”. Every time that drill happened, it was not lost on me that the sole reason for it was because nothing was changing. One tweet, from nine years ago, summed it up perfectly. “In retrospect, Sandy Hook marked the end of the US Gun Control Debate. Once America decided killing children was bearable, it was over”.

And that’s where I sat, at that table, wondering why we, as a people, have become so selfish that we prize our weapons over the lives of our own children. We have become so individual, so close-minded, that nothing more than me and mine matters. We have spent so much time looking in the mirror that we have become blind to the fact that we do not live in a vacuum. We are not independent of one another. We’ve lost sight of societal good, to where we aren’t willing to give up something that only serves to destroy in order to save the lives of our neighbors.

But that was not the only thing I realized. I caught myself. I was talking about the slaughter of thousands every year, many of them children, and I was using the word “compromise”. I was facing what should be a simple moral question: The promise of Life or the tools of Death, and I found myself saying “Maybe there’s a middle ground here”. And I suppose that’s to be expected at this point.

I’ve been going on for a while now, so I figure I should wrap it up. Plainly put, nothing changes. People die, thoughts and prayers, “we need to do something”, we wait for a while, and we forget until it happens again. I’ve seen this cycle too many times, and I finally noticed what it took from me: my hope. I suppose that’s why I’m sick-I’ve realized that after all that I’ve done, I’ve started to lose the very hope that inspired me. I’ve been taught that my life is less valuable than that which can take it.

I don’t really know how to put a good spin on this. I’m supposed to find a way to give hope at this point, but right now I’m just trying to hold onto enough for myself. By writing this, my stomach’s started to feel better, so either I got this off my chest (which, to be fair, I needed to do anyways), or the fish has given up the fight. Jokes aside, I’m just trying to find a sign that things will get better, and not just a sign that says that things will get better.

So this lent season, that’s my goal-to find that kind of hope again.

May God be with us-goodness knows we need him now.

And I started to talk, but I had to stop. For the first time in that conversation, I was at a loss for words. Not because I lacked an answer, but because it had been staring me in the face the whole time and I hadn’t said it once.

“It’s necessary because I, my siblings, my friends, and my peers have all been taught that we are worth less than a weapon of war”.

You see, I was raised on ALICE drills, and you’ve all heard the stories by now. “Students, hide in the corners, lock the doors, and those who will fight, get weapons and watch the door”. Every time that drill happened, it was not lost on me that the sole reason for it was because nothing was changing. One tweet, from nine years ago, summed it up perfectly. “In retrospect, Sandy Hook marked the end of the US Gun Control Debate. Once America decided killing children was bearable, it was over”.

And that’s where I sat, at that table, wondering why we, as a people, have become so selfish that we prize our weapons over the lives of our own children.  We have become so individual, so close-minded, that nothing more than me and mine matters. We have spent so much time looking in the mirror that we have become blind to the fact that we do not live in a vacuum. We are not independent of one another. We’ve lost sight of societal good, to where we aren’t willing to give up something that only serves to destroy in order to save the lives of our neighbors.

But that was not the only thing I realized. I caught myself. I was talking about the slaughter of thousands every year, many of them children, and I was using the word “compromise”. I was facing what should be a simple moral question: The promise of Life or the tools of Death, and I found myself saying “Maybe there’s a middle ground here”. And I suppose that’s to be expected at this point.

I’ve been going on for a while now, so I figure I should wrap it up. Plainly put, nothing changes. People die, thoughts and prayers, “we need to do something”, we wait for a while, and we forget until it happens again. I’ve seen this cycle too many times, and I finally noticed what it took from me: my hope. I suppose that’s why I’m sick-I’ve realized that after all that I’ve done, I’ve started to lose the very hope that inspired me. I’ve been taught that my life is less valuable than that which can take it.

I don’t really know how to put a good spin on this. I’m supposed to find a way to give hope at this point, but right now I’m just trying to hold onto enough for myself. By writing this, my stomach’s started to feel better, so either I got this off my chest (which, to be fair, I needed to do anyways), or the fish has given up the fight. Jokes aside, I’m just trying to find a sign that things will get better, and not just a sign that says that things will get better.

So this lent season, that’s my goal-to find that kind of hope again.

May God be with us-goodness knows we need him now.