Cook: Peace on earth and in our hearts

  • Posted: Saturday, December 22, 2012 6:39 p.m.
    UPDATED: Thursday, December 27, 2012 11:01 a.m.

Listening to Christmas songs last week, I was both touched and torn.

While Teresa Moore Mitchell sang of the “Sweet Little Jesus Boy,” in my mind I saw the faces of the children mowed down by a cold-blooded gunman in Connecticut. Sweet baby Jesus. Sweet little children.

The world treats you mean, Lord.

Treats me mean too.
But that’s how things are down here ...

Just as people who fall in love hear song lyrics anew, those in grief must hear things differently, too. Mine were not the only teary eyes at Rotary when Teresa and the Rev. Dr. Grant Harrison sang “A Prayer,” dedicated to the victims of the Newtown, Conn., shootings.

Lead us to a place.
Guide us with your grace.

To a place where we’ll be safe.

Where was God?
Where was Man?

It feels as though we all let those children and adults down. Are sporadic mass murders simply, as the gospel song says, “the way things are down here,” or can we do something about it?

Sadly, this has become the Christmas of The Gun. Looking for something to watch on TV one night, I found most of the programs fell into one of two categories: over-played Christmas movies or talking heads debating gun control — also well-worn story lines.

Between the Newtown aftermath and the supposed Mayan prediction that the world was coming to an end, the season went haywire last week. Schools accustomed to Christmas parties on the last day before the holiday break found themselves protected by law enforcement and turning people away at the door.

It makes you long for the days when too much sugar was the paramount problem of this celebratory day.

Meanwhile, gun stores are doing a booming business, partly because of the usual Christmas rush, but also because gun enthusiasts see the hammer of new restrictions coming down on assault rifles as a result of the mass murder.

Most of us would rather think about something other than massacres and gun laws at Christmas. While it’s true that the subjects we would wish away are often the ones that most need to be confronted, does it have to be now?

Yes, it has to be now, while the pain and horror are fresh, before time and other crises push Newtown’s tragedy to the back of our minds. Attention spans are short.

Locally, this is the Christmas of The Central Office, with school board Chairman Richard Miller and county commission Chairman Jim Sides staking themselves out and exchanging emails. Sides says he has talked with other commissioners — privately — and he will not be calling a Jan. 3 meeting of commissioners to discuss the proposed downtown central office with the school board and City Council.

Power. Sides has it.
But so does Miller. And he has reached out in an attempt to work together.

We get more than enough stonewalling from politicians in Washington. Surely at the local level our elected leaders can bring themselves to meet face-to-face.

On a positive note, this is also the Christmas of former Salisbury Mayor Susan Kluttz’ appointment to Gov. Pat McCrory’s cabinet. She’ll be secretary of cultural resources. I have the feeling this is the beginning of many good things for Kluttz and the people she’ll serve — the people of North Carolina.

More jobs are coming to Rowan County via Gildan, the Courtyard Marriott and other businesses. Bit by bit, the economy is getting better. Most of us are solvent, healthy and hopeful about the future.

And among the good movies that have come out lately is one about Abraham Lincoln, who penned a fitting quote:

“I have been driven many times upon my kneesby the overwhelming conviction that I had nowhere else to go. My own wisdom and that of all about me insufficient for that day.”

As long as we live, we’ll never understand why or how such things as school massacres happen. You can’t superimpose logic on the thoughts of an illogical mind.

Instead of reliving Newtown’s loss upon hearing a hymn, I should send prayers of hope when I come across reminders of the tragedy. Lord, oh, Lord. Please be with these people. And be with us as we work together to prevent such atrocities from happening again.

Elizabeth Cook is editor of the Salisbury Post. Contact her at or 704-797-4244.

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