William Wordsworth wrote his sonnet, The World Is Too Much With Us, in 1802 out of anger with the increased materialism of his time. While the frustration is of a different source and of a different moment, it was a line that came to me–and stays with me–following the horrifying killing of school children and their beloved protectors in Newtown, Connecticut.
An advocate for nature and the natural world, Wordsworth was disgusted with what he believed to be the destruction of beauty for the sake of greed and money. We are similarly today suffering the consequences of having put power and campaigns, elections and lobbyists ahead of reasonable and compassionate laws.
The world is too much with us; late and soon,
Getting and spending, we lay waste our powers;
Little we see in Nature that is ours;
We have given our hearts away, a sordid boon!
We are destroying our families–the only thing in this life truly irreplaceable. If there is a measure for such things, then I am not handling this recent tragedy well. Like many of my friends, like many of you, I am angry and sickened and broken. I am unable to process my own fears as my heartache for the affected families leaves me utterly still with sadness.
I was at my daughter’s kindergarten class Friday at lunchtime, as the worst of the news was breaking across the Internet and on the networks. That there were children dead. We were there for a party. Some of us knew what was happening, and others didn’t hear until later. We were in a thin fog of despair and disbelief, picturing our own school morning rituals, the breakfasts and backpacks, the hurried “remember to’s” among the doorway goodbyes.
I have been in tears many times since yesterday afternoon. I am holding my own children tighter; I am sure you are as well. Yet I am uncomfortable around my children today. I cannot look at them outside of the context of those parents’ unbearable pain. My thoughts are racing and unsettled. My heart is a heavy mass.
The world–its breathtaking absence of justice, its vicious robberies–is too much with us. So many of us are hoping to hear and see potent courage from our leaders. I pray to any power in our universe or another, that no child should again pay the price of our distraction. All value lay in our children, our families. Let us all do what is right, right now.
The Sea that bares her bosom to the moon;
The winds that will be howling at all hours,
And are up-gathered now like sleeping flowers;
For this, for everything, we are out of tune…