“I went to high school at Danbury High School and I worked at Danbury Hospital for five years. Needless to say, I’m a little shaken by what has happened so close to that city today. I’m at a loss for words, there is no understanding the mental instability that leads someone to kill anyone, much less children. The only thing I can say is, as you go about your day today, try and look a little deeper into the hearts of the people you interact with on a daily basis. If you have the slightest indication that one of those people are unstable enough or are outwardly emotionally damaged enough, to have an inclination to create a tragedy of the magnitude that is continuing to unfold in Newtown, CT today. Please be proactive.” A former man friend of BGIM
I guess it’s no surprise that in a world that runs on a 24/7 news cycle that despite the fact that for the families affected by the horrific tragedy that came upon Newtown, CT only two days have passed but already everyone thinks they know what can stop the next mass murder from happening again. I had not been planning to write on this so soon because frankly it feels wrong. Parents haven’t even buried their children yet, but in a nation with a short attention span, I suppose now is the time to say something.
Already after 48 hours of coverage, many of us sitting on the sidelines attempting to wrap our brains around this tragedy are feeling uncomfortable, can’t take it and need to unplug from the horrors of this situation. Yet when I look back in my relatively short life, I can’t help wondering if maybe we need to be uncomfortable, we need to feel this, we need to not let this go.
Since the 1990’s, mass murders have become common place, I fear that frankly they have become so common place, that when we hear them of them, we get upset, shed a few tears and move on. Unless they affect us directly, while we feel for the victims it’s simply too much and we move on. But not before we declare that the lack of gun bans and access to mental health services are the real culprits.
Clearly America has a love affair with guns, continuing to believe that our founding fathers meant for us to own the equivalent of our own private armies within our individual homes, no matter how nonsensical that is in modern times. We absolutely have a mental health crisis, my work with low income folks has intersected many times with the mental health community and access to services is a true crisis. Yet I believe our issues with mass murders and violence in this nation involves more than a lack of gun bans and access to mental health services, there is a lack of us. It’s even easy to blame the school systems, after all bullying is almost a norm in many public schools in the US and we all know that bullying can create situations where young people are brought to their breaking points. All of these factors and many more I do believe need to be addressed if we are going to stop this cycle of violence in this country but I also think to make these heinous acts a thing of the past, it will require even more…it requires us and our active participation in our society.
We all live intense lives and more and more of us are living without community and support, many of us are not connected to the world around us in any truly meaningful way. Instead we go it alone and I am not sure we are meant to go it alone with no one other than our nuclear families and a handful of friends. Obviously no one knows what made this young man do what he did and sadly we may never know his reasoning. The media reports that are emerging and that are even conflicting at times seem to describe a young man who had his own challenges and if I am extrapolating correctly, a mother who may have been his only support. Aside from a random aunt, and a statement released by the Lanza family I am struck by the lack of people coming forward to say anything about this family. Then again I am not surprised, many of us live isolated lives, and I most certainly have been guilty of it myself.
Am I saying that community support could have stopped this tragedy? No, but I do believe when we allow ourselves to be isolated and choose when to feel or not feel for larger events we are all playing a role in the culture that creates people who reach the breaking point where these heinous acts occur. I believe that when we feel truly uncomfortable and realize that the kids of Sandy Hook could be our kids that we will feel led to say enough is enough. We will do whatever is possible including letter writing, contacting our legislators, and knowing the people around us in a meaningful way so that we know that mom grappling with the challenging son and can assist. Will it make a difference? I honestly don’t know but I know that when we declare we can’t take it anymore and simply unplug from the pain or rant online or at the office water cooler with no actions to back up the rants that nothing ever changes.
As the mother of a 7 year old, reading the list of victim’s names stung me as I realized these kids are the same age as my kid, they could have been her playmates. Kids at 6 and 7 are filled with joy and wonder at the world around them, and to even imagine the terror that they felt in their last minutes is hard to think about it. But I never want to forget the children of Sandy Hook because I never again want to hear of small children being killed at a school, I don’t want to hear of kids being killed at all. Even learning that the killer was a twenty year old young man disturbed me as I have seen people refer to him as a monster; yet as the mother of a twenty year old young man I know that is an age where yes they are legal adults but they are still finding their way in the world similar to that of a small child. In this case, something went wrong and I need to feel uncomfortable so I don’t forget and I hope others don’t either so we can be proactive at creating a world where mass murders become a thing of the past.
Accusations and anger won’t change what happened, questioning a higher power won’t change things either but we can work towards change. Let’s make that happen.