Buddhism & Tragedy

I am new to the MA program as well as the forum, so please forgive me if this subject has been discussed in the past. On Friday, there was a massacre in an elementary school in the US. Along with a number of adults, 20 children between the ages of 5 and 10 were gunned down by an obviously very disturbed 20 year-old. As seems to happen all too frequently in the US, people are again grieving, trying to make sense out of yet another needless loss of life, made all the more poignant considering the age and innocence of the victims.

Typically, Americans are looking to their Christian faith for solace. Prayer vigils are being held and people are praying for the victims, their families and the survivors. By believers, God is generally held to be ‘interventionist’ and responsive to prayer. Parents whose children were not killed will be thanking God, in prayer, for their children’s deliverance; while those whose children were killed will be grappling with why that same God did not intervene, strike down the killer, and stop the tragedy from unfolding at all. Whether God is selective, allowing some to suffer and others to not, disinterested, unresponsive or incapable of involvement, God’s role in tragedy is for me personally at least, wholly unsatisfactory, and the main reason I’m an atheist.

Those children died in absolute blind terror. The hurt and guilt felt by their parents will never abate. The survivors will be permanently scarred, psychologically. Their community will be tormented for decades. I realize that this is an isolated event, but it is indicative of one of countless tragedies, either man-made or resulting from natural disaster, that afflict our world. From a Buddhist perspective, how are we to make sense of tragedy that takes precious life so indiscriminately?

Denis Wallez's picture

the tragedy makes sense karmically (more than it seems)

I wrote a billet on g+ about this called karmic continuation,
although it makes sense only if you start understanding how karma and no-self are compatible (i.e. how karma does not relate to a Person/Soul even though it is 'personal'). The summary would be:

if Americans create their 'world' as a dangerous place, their existence within such a context (i.e. not independently from the consequences of a violent society) will naturally lead them to 'experience' the said dangerous place.
One doesn't live independently from the environment he/she shapes.

This view also gives the solution:
• stop clinging to some outdated understanding of the second constitutional amendment,
• stop clinging to the idea that violence is justifiable (e.g. in the name of self-defence, which leads to make the sale and circulation of weapons justifiable)
• and it then becomes possible —in very practical terms— to live in a better world (for themselves and next lives —theirs or not).