Saturday, December 15, 2012

December 15

We heard about it Friday afternoon ... as Charlie and I went out to look for carpeting for our children's bedrooms.  Our older children were still in school and we were enjoying a few hours of quiet time with our five-year-old.  We walked in to the carpet store and were making small talk with the owner who had a four-month old puppy scurrying about her feet.  Henry made himself comfortable at a table with a coloring book and crayons and the woman turned to me and whispered, "Did you hear the news? Did you hear about the school shooting?"  "Um, I don't know..." I replied. "Which school shooting?"

There have been so many tragic shootings, it's almost hard to keep them straight anymore.

"Oh my God," she replied. She clutched her chest and tears came to her eyes as she continued, "It happened today in Connecticut at an elementary school." She looked at Henry. "There are 27 confirmed dead and 20 of them are children." If she'd kicked me full force in the gut, my reaction wouldn't have been any different.

How could something like that happen when Christmas is eleven days away? Why isn't there a special magic that prevents bad things from happening to children?   And what does a mother with young children do with that information? Is it possible for her to detach herself to the point that it's "just another news headline"?  For me, personally, I don't possess the ability to "detach". I relate, probably more than I should, with the situation and slip down a rabbit hole of grief.

Children are supposed to grow up and outlive their parents. 


Every night at our home. Every. Single. Night. We have a prayer list and on that list are people who have endured unthinkable loss.  Our children don't know these people that we pray for - but they do know their stories. They know about Julia Green and Jack Donaldson and Gretta Wyman. Those were all unthinkable losses, but those were accidents. 

The first thought that came to my mind, yesterday is that a person inflicted this pain, a person who set out to create as much destruction as he could.  Since then, I haven't been able to stop thinking about the children whose lives were stolen. And the children that were within proximity and laid witness to such evil doings, their innocence of a safe place in the world, instantly stripped away.  I've been thinking about the school administrators and teachers that were unable to do anything to stop the rampage - many of whom became victims themselves.  And the parents and the families and the friends that had such an unthinkable tragedy occur at what is supposed to be the most magical time of the year. I've also been thinking about the communities and state of Connecticut, that is undoubtedly still reeling from the unthinkable horror that happened less than an hour away, last Christmas.

(Madonna Badger, we pray for you every single night, too.)

Those thoughts were in conjunction with the thought: Why?

Working under the assumption that people are born good and are shaped by the world around them, what went so wrong here? The person that caused this tragedy was once an innocent child, too. Surely his family loved him. Surely people cared about his welfare. So what happened to him that he would do something so unthinkable?  Did the thought ever cross his mind about the families that would return to their homes that are suddenly devoid of their most precious occupants?  Did he think about the lives that he derailed, forever?  Who are these people that are so distraught and lost that they feel obligated to destroy every life around them?  And where, as a society, are we going so wrong to identify - treat - and if necessary, contain them?

Is it the guns that our laws allow? 

I've heard the argument that if people aren't allowed the right to bear arms, only the criminals will have them. And while that makes sense, the problem is - I don't hear stories about people defending themselves from criminals.  Instead, I see stories upon stories - so many that I am mixing up the stories - about innocent people who are slain by the disturbed who really never should have had access to a gun in the first place.  So for those who do bear arms, why aren't they there when we need them? Why don't we carry them everywhere?  Why don't we have them in movie theaters - or temples - or at summer camps - or malls - or elementary schools?  Perhaps that thinking is too radical. But at this point, it seems appropriate after so many shootings - and now 20 little children are taken from us.

Is it the media? 

Is it television shows and movies and music and even books - that are so widely read and distributed that have further desensitized us from the horror that comes from killing a human being? Is it people trying to "one-up" the last tragedy and make a name for themselves?

Is it preservatives in food?

Is it lack of religion in our culture?

Is it parents that are too overworked?

Is it a society that is moving so fast we don't take notice?

I don't have any answers. I only have sadness and my most heartfelt prayers for the victims and the families. Prayers for love, wisdom, courage, strength ... and hope.


  1. One thing I'd like to add - rather than television and movies and books- is violent video games. I would be very interested to hear if this boy was a regular player.

  2. I can't even tell you how heart broken I am! Having lived in a society where guns are NOT allowed, I am almost certain that it IS the fact that guns are readily available. All of the shootings have been committed by legally obtained guns that got in the wrong hands :/ Why make it that much easier on these people, when we could unite and CHANGE things to protect our innocent children! Every third hour an innocent child or teenager is killed in this country! Can you phantom this?!?! Only after guns are prohibited, THEN we can go ahead and make the cultural changes that would do our society well ... I don't want to rave on, but wanted to pass this along:
    It makes me sad, but I think everyone should read this and contemplate!

  3. Anon - Yes ... I agree ... video games certainly tops the list in my opinion. In the paper today, it indicated that he was a "gamer." Charlie tells me that he played some relatively violent video games when he was younger and it hasn't made him a violent person - - but I think for some people, they are unable to distinguish fact from fiction. Also, video games are much more prevalent now then they were when he was a kid, 30 years ago. Throw an unstable, volatile personality and some unlocked guns in to the mix and its a recipe for disaster.

    Nina: It's absolutely heartbreaking. SOMETHING has to change and while a lot of people will fight against it, I honestly believe revisiting the gun laws is one of the first places to start.

  4. I completely agree that those who choose to legally bear arms should help. The idea of well-placed legal gun holders preventing tragedies is something that has been discussed among my Facebook friends since this tragedy. I have read stories that just don't make headlines (like I think they should) because the news doesn't usually tell us what didn't happen. These have included the detail that the movie theater shooting happened at a theater that was not the closest or easiest to get to, but it was the closest with a "gun-free zone". Also included was a story of a mall shooting that was prevented because a man risked his life to defend with his concealed weapon. If you would like some links with good endings, let me know.