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Seeping into hopelessness

Rich Mayfield

Living in the mountains of Colorado this summer one hears all kinds of sad and disturbing news, but perhaps the saddest comes not from this tinder dry terrain, but from Hampton, Ga. where a story of hopelessness has me somberly reflecting.

Carol Carr, by all accounts, a dedicated wife and devoted mother, was arrested for shooting to death her two sons, Randy, 42, and Andy, 41. The two men suffered from a hideous disease known as Huntington’s that slowly robs the victim of the ability to move, swallow, talk or think. Her husband had died from the disease in 1995 and her sons were entering into the final, but horribly lingering stages of the always fatal illness.

According to Sara Rimer of the New York Times, Mrs. Carr committed her murderous act because she could no longer bear watching her sons’ suffering. She had spent years caring for her husband in his slow and agonizing demise and so, better than most, she knew of the horrors that lay ahead for Randy and Andy. What most of us cannot even imagine contemplating, she did. Carol Carr shot her own children to death.

Her arrest and imprisonment have left family and friends shaken, but also sympathetic. According to Dr. Steven Hersch, founder of the Huntington’s Disease Society of America’s Center for Excellence in Atlanta, the illness has an agony all its own for those who must care for its victims.

“They’ve changed in so many fundamental ways – they’re no longer themselves physically, emotionally or mentally – but, there are enough remnants left that you’re reminded every day of the loss of the person you love.”

I suspect Carol Carr’s motives will never be fully understood by anyone outside her own tragic circumstance, but it does reveal again the destructive power that enters into any vacuum of hope.

Even as I am utterly repelled by the murderous actions of Palestinian suicide-bombers, I wonder if their willingness to self-destruct in order to wreck destruction isn’t born out of this same sense of hopelessness so sympathetically evoked by Mrs. Carr.

Over and over again, I read of interviews with Palestinian youth whose image of the future is filled with only despair. Their bravado barely covers their deep frustration as they look ahead to nothing but more of the same – poverty, oppression, imprisonment. Abu Sbaa a resident of Jena on the West Bank and a recent detainee by Israeli soldiers, said of his captors, “It is because we are Palestinians. They want to humiliate us.”

The causes of the Palestinian conflict are complicated and I certainly have no easy remedy to offer, but it seems abundantly clear to me, and a growing number of others, that we must find the means to generate hope among these disaffected people.

I cannot imagine any other way for a peaceful resolution. Without hope, even the most loving of people are driven to the most horrific of actions. “Take hope from the heart of man,” wrote Maria Louise de la Ramee, “and you have left a beast of prey.”

The battle being fought in the Middle East and reported to us each day grows dangerously close to being fought by only beasts of prey.

Rich Mayfield is pastor of the Lord of the Mountains Lutheran Church and a regular columnist for the Summit Daily News.


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