Ottawa Citizen- How can we explain a tragedy like the Newtown shootings?

Every week WSO's legal counsel Balpreet Singh takes part in a column in the Ottawa Citizen entitled "Ask the Religion Experts".  We will be sharing Balpreet Singh's response to each week's question here, along with a link to answers from other faith traditions.

Last week's question was:  "How can we explain a tragedy like the Newtown shootings?".  Balpreet Singh's answer is below:

The Newtown tragedy, and others like it, are in some ways incomprehensible. How can anyone brutally shoot innocent little children and not feel any mercy? Looking at history, there are many other tragedies that defy explanation, where human beings have imposed unimaginable pain and suffering on others.

While an explanation is not possible, the aftermath of such tragedies provide an opportunity to reach out to each other in compassion and solidarity and to seek ways to prevent similar tragedies from reoccurring. As a person of faith, it is also a time where I can turn to God for solace.

The question is always asked, how could God have allowed such a tragedy to take place? There is no answer to that question except that God’s will is perfect and only God can truly know the reasons behind why anything happens. In the Sikh faith, we are taught to accept God’s will, but also to work to serve those in need and try to prevent evil from occurring. Tragedy must serve as a call to action. After tragedies like Newtown or the shooting at the Oak Creek gurdwara last summer, people have come together to support each other and show solidarity. There have been candlelight vigils across the world and prayers recited by people of all different faiths. We have all hugged our children a little tighter and hopefully, appreciated the gift of life a little more. It was an opportunity to reaffirm the absolute importance of compassion and mercy for all life.

A much harder exercise is that of trying to understand what factors may have lead to these types of shootings. Clearly there is something wrong when mass shootings occur with such disturbing frequency in America. Many are beginning to question whether tighter gun control laws may be a solution and that is certainly a discussion that is long overdue. It is our collective duty to find ways of preventing such needless loss of life.


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