Like everyone else, I’m trying to process and make sense of the shocking school shooting in Connecticut. I’ve religiously read every possible article and news report related to this tragedy, but it is still inevitably a senseless, horrific act that breaks all of our hearts. I’m a visual person, so when I read, I instantly have a visual in my head. Today, I imagined the terror of the children, huddling in corners of classrooms crying, wanting their mommies and daddies to protect them. I pictured the parents receiving news of their children in the midst of this act of terror and the helplessness they must have felt. I imagined the reunions of the lucky families whose children escaped the bloodshed of this mass murder. Every scenario brings tears to my eyes.
I am grieving with the rest of this country. I am mourning for the loss of those families who had to identify the lifeless bodies of their loved ones. I am empathizing with the pain of parents who will no longer be able to physically hug their children anymore. Orphans are children without parents. Widows are those who lost a spouse through death. There is no word in the dictionary for a parent who loses a child through death. It’s an unimaginable pain that nobody should ever have to go through in their lifetime.
Tonight, I hugged Bridgette a little closer and a little harder. We prayed for the victims and their families, and for the whole community. When I tried to explain the tragedy to Bridgette, she gasped and expressed a lot of concern and compassion, but I could tell she could not fully grasp the meaning behind it. How could she, at 5 years old, when even adults like myself have a hard time making sense of this.
There are all kinds of posts on Facebook and the Internet from people who are trying to get to the core of the problem. Many opinions are expressed, full of anger and blame. Most expressed exasperation on the lack of gun control in the U.S. Would gun control really prevent such tragedies from happening? Maybe. I completely agree that our country should not make guns so easily available for people. But there are about a hundred other ways for one to perform violent, deathly, destructive acts without guns, perhaps even at a bigger scale. Instead of looking at just the weapon, maybe we should also be looking at the person behind the cruel act. What could his life possibly be like to lead him down this path? I don’t believe that anyone could be born evil, nor can a perfectly sane person just turn evil overnight. Should we, as a society, devote more attention and care towards those around us, so we can identify troubled souls ahead of time and encourage them to seek proper and professional help? There is nothing shameful about mental illnesses. In fact, they are as common these days as the cold and the flu. If each of us can pay closer attention to the people around us, we may be able to stop those that are deeply troubled from getting worse, or going over the edge. Look for the signs, trust our gut, reach out.
I grew up in a modest, normal household. My dad kept a gun locked in his closet and I’m not sure if it was for our protection, or if he bought it “just because.” I recall the countless times that I sneaked that gun out to play with, while my parents were at work. I didn’t ever load it, as my parents have preached to my sister and I a million times on the danger of misused guns, but I suppose I could have. My point is, guns are very dangerous weapons, especially when they are in the wrong hands, so they really shouldn’t be so readily accessible. However, I feel that we should look at the bigger picture as well. There are serious issues with our society which prevents us from paying attention to the very people or things right in front of us. We are getting more detached with reality. If there is one action item we can do right now, it is to make a conscious effort to really truly notice and care about the people around us, not just on a Facebook, Twitter or Instagram level but rather, the old fashion ways instead. I sure am going to try hard.
My deepest sympathy and condolences to the families suffering from their losses and to the survivors who are painfully traumatized…the entire world is mourning with you, and praying for you.