Trying to explain an evil act like the one that killed 20 children and six adults at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn., is on a par with explaining how the universe was formed.
The natural human reaction after extending sympathy and prayers for the victims and their families is to ask what actions might have been taken to prevent the massacre. More gun laws? Connecticut already has some of the strictest gun laws in the nation. Those laws did not prevent a man with evil intent from carrying out his heinous act.
Some will blame TV and video game violence. Depictions of murder and other violent acts on TV and in the movies have grown in recent years, but people killed people long before TV and movies. Such explanations are too easy.
Would armed guards at Sandy Hook have helped? Possibly, but do we want guards at every elementary school, patrolling not only the halls, but playgrounds where kids ought to be able to play in an atmosphere of fun and freedom? That may be where we are headed.
What about locked doors? Sandy Hook's doors were reportedly secured, but the shooter still managed to somehow gain access.
As much as humans have tried for millennia to prevent evil acts, we have not succeeded. In the modern era, Woodrow Wilson believed his League of Nations would usher in peace on Earth, if not goodwill to men. The United Nations followed that aborted experiment. The U.N. has been equally unsuccessful in preventing the slaughter of innocents and other evil acts.
Political leaders not usually identified with spiritual concepts are making use of the word "evil' in accurately describing what happened in Newtown. We hear calls for prayers from politicians committed to the separation of church and state. Whether it is Columbine, Virginia Tech, Tucson, Aurora, Ft. Hood, Oklahoma City or the 9/11 terrorist attacks, evil seems to have gained a foothold in America.
Not every parent with a child in public school has the option of home-schooling, but that is something they might want to consider if they want to create a completely safe environment. Even private schools can't offer full protection from a deranged mind hell-bent on carnage.
More information about the killer will surface in the days to come, but even if we learn he was psychotic and off his medication, that will not satisfy our communal anger or anguish. It will not explain evil. It will not explain why 26 innocent lives were lost.