As an avid reader of harder literature and a former inner city school teacher, I sometimes like to think there’s not a whole lot that can shake me up. But there were two stories I came across this week that got to me. One was about a former professional football player getting out of prison after serving his sentence. His crime? He was convicted of hiring a hit man to kill a woman carrying his child. The woman died. The child survived, but grew up severely brain damaged and is now 17. The other story, more widely reported, was ISIS’s use of the citizens of Mosul, including young boys, as human shields, and their later systematic execution.
As I reflected on why these two stories struck me deeply, the answer was fairly simple. In this season of life, with a four-year-old son, part of my ego-identity is that of father. And beyond that, it took us years to be able to conceive going through several rounds of testing, tracking, and fertility treatment. If there’s a greater gift in life than parenthood, of being a caretaker and nurturer of a life, I can’t think of it right now. So to have these two stories, one part of an ongoing war, the other more domestic and intimate, of this level of desecration, was jarring.