A mourning dove sat on my front steps today. I weep for Shaunakaye Williams, although I never met her. The death of the young is tragedy defined. I did not know Shaunakaye, but I know that she was a young woman of great potential. She had discovered FIRST Robotics in Newark and died while in California at a FIRST competition. If it weren’t for the FIRST connection, her death might of remained unknown to me, but it would have been a grave loss nevertheless. Becoming a parent has been the most wonderful and terrifying event in my insignificant life. Since it has happened, I have mourned every death of a child of which I’ve heard. The words of comfort fail. FIRST is the most optimistic group with which I’ve ever been affiliated, recognizing and rewarding the potential of bright young minds. Shaunakaye was part of that family, and her loss is deeply felt.
In the field of religious studies, those who would justify the actions of God in a world full of suffering are faced with a daunting task. Theodicy is the most unenviable and unsatisfying aspect of the theological endeavor. Even the stalwart author of the book of Job dared not ask the great unanswerable “why?” – there is no justification for the death of the young. Often the answer is there is no answer. Job’s friends cannot accept this truth and fabricate excuses to show that God is just. God himself affirms, however, that life is just not fair.
As a race, as a species, our children are our greatest assets. Bully governors and pedophiles notwithstanding, any society that does not promote or encourage its children has already cut off its entire future. I mourn for Shaunakaye Williams, and for all those who have not been given the chance to reach their full potential. I mourn for all parents who have had to face this most terrible of afflictions. And I will never be counted among the friends of Job.