Like many people, I was horrified to hear about the shooting at the Sandy Hook Elementary School yesterday. This is a town not unlike the small town where I grew up in Massachusetts. My heart is breaking for the parents, teachers, and community who have lost loved ones. My daughter is four and a half and will be starting kindergarten next fall, and I can’t help picturing her and her preschool classmates. I can’t even imagine what those parents must be going through. They should be celebrating the holidays, not mourning the loss of their child.
And like many people, I want to know why and how this continues to happen. There have been too many mass shootings. No one wants to talk about gun control, but really, is it too much to ask that we make automatic weapons impossible to obtain? That we enforce the laws and make it more difficult for people who shouldn’t have guns to get them? I’m not saying take them away from responsible gun owners. But if you’re responsible, don’t you want to help prevent these senseless acts of violence? If you had to wait longer to obtain a gun and this prevented the loss of life, wouldn’t it be worthwhile?
Sure, criminals will find ways to get guns no matter what and no law will prevent that. But also an issue is the lack of mental health services for people who desperately need help. And the violent culture that pervades our society. There is a lack of compassion and common decency and sense of community. We don’t care about each other. We don’t help each other. Yes, I think our government has a responsibility to help its citizens, especially the most vulnerable (liberal here, if you haven’t figured that one out yet), but we also need to help ourselves and our fellow human beings. Somehow we have lost our community.
I truly believe it takes a village to raise a child. We need to start from the ground up: parents, schools, community. What is the fallback if those things fail? Who helps the kids who have nowhere else to turn? You can say it’s not your problem, but it’s our problem. None of us lives in a vacuum. We have to stop the cycle of violence and hopelessness. Please note that I’m speaking generally here because the motive behind Friday’s shooting hasn’t come out yet.
But something has to be done to end this. If twenty young children and the six people dedicated to educating them gunned down in a school–a safe haven–is not enough to wake us up as a country and ask what the hell is wrong here, then I don’t know what will.
If nothing else, please hug your children, cherish your friends and family, and stay active in your community. We really are all in this together.