This is how I'm talking to my children about yesterday's school shooting.
FOR MY YOUNG CHILDREN:
Yesterday, something bad happened. And yesterday, something good happened.
In our world, bad things and good things happen.
It is bad when people hurt each other. It is good when people hug each other.
In our family, we hug each other. In our family, we don't hurt each other. But if we do hurt each other, we say sorry and we do something nice to show we mean it.
In our family, we show love by doing nice things for each other and by taking care of each other. When we do nice things for other people, we share love.
Let's do something nice for people who are sad today. This is how we show them we love them, too.
FOR MY OLDER CHILDREN:
Yesterday, there was a shooting at an elementary school. Children and teachers were killed. Sadly, this is not the first time this has happened. It might not be the last time.
The reality of our world is that evil exists. But there is another truth, too. Good exists. And so does faith, hope and love.
Sometimes we can feel helpless when something like this happens. But there really is something we can do. We can help by remaining calm, peaceful, hopeful and loving. We can help by loving those who are right next to us.
For example, how did you treat your siblings today? Did you snap at them or did you use a kind voice? How did you treat your parents today? Were you grateful or did you complain?
At a time like this, it's important to refrain from judging.
Instead of judging how others react to tragedy, we can understand that everyone grieves differently. Some of people rant, some call for change, some are silent, some weep, some pray, some research, some rebuild, some bake casseroles, some take their children out for a fun day. This is all OK.
The best way to promote peace is not by finger-pointing and saying: "You're doing it wrong!" but by acknowledging that we are ALL in this together.
We can't control other people and we can't control the bad things that happen in our world. But we can start by treating those closest to us with love and respect.
Sometimes we might ask: "Where is God in tragedies like this?"
God is here. God is very right here. He is in the outstretched arms of those who seek to bind up the brokenhearted. He is in the embrace of neighbors. He is in those who seek to rebuild, who research, who rant, who cry out for justice.
Evil exists. But good exists, too.
It's up to each of us to choose how we want to be. Do we want to be people who hurt others or people who love others?
In the end, good triumphs over evil.
Love triumphs over hate.
We can help that happen by loving each other right here at home.