As I’ve checked out at various grocery stores these past several days I’m continually greeted by the faces of the victims at Sandy Hook Elementary, where they appear on the cover of the most recent issue of “People” magazine. Part of me wants to buy this issue just for the cover…to save it, to remind me of these lives lost too soon…lives of people, both young and not so young, who doubtless had much to share with the world. And another part of me thinks: “Why be reminded of just these people when so many other innocent lives are lost to gun violence, so many people whose faces we never see and whose stories we never hear.”
Is there something that makes the loss of their lives more tragic than the loss of the hundreds, thousands, millions? of lives that are lost in numbers both smaller and larger than those of these people who were killed at Sandy Hook Elementary not even two weeks ago? I don’t think so. I think it comes down to the perception that these people lived in a place that was assumed to be safe, unlike, Iraq, Afghanistan, Syria…anyplace there is war, civil unrest , or even poor or even less affluent neighborhoods in our own country. They lived where they were supposed to be safe….Add to it that most of the victims were young children….who perceived to be innocent by virtue of their age and thus should never be targeted …even by someone whose mind resides in a place of mental illness or evil.
But there are children and people all over the world, who, by virtue of where they live, in a war or rebellion or poverty torn country or part of town here, end up, on a daily basis, having their lives taken from them. How many of their faces do we see? How many of their stories do we hear? Are their lives of less value because…..they’re not American, or they are not as affluent or they live someplace not as safe? I wonder, if we saw their faces and heard their stories presented in the same manner, with the same emphasis, on the tragedy of their lives being snuffed out too soon, if we’d become as outraged by the wars and by the poverty that led to the violence that took their lives. Or are we just generally so shell-shocked and numbed by it all that it takes a violence that “breaks all the rules” so to speak to get and keep our attention enough to where we might finally do something meaningful to address it. Then again perhaps we already forgetting. Perhaps our attention is already being drawn elsewhere…
My hope is that enough of us do not become distracted, that enough of us keep our focus on not just the violence that snuffed out the lives of the people at Sandy Hook, but on the violence that takes too many lives every single day. My hope is that more of us than before are waking from a slumber of denial or overwhelm to take thoughtful and compassionate action towards addressing the many and complex causes of violence. And it must be an action that begins in our own minds and hearts and ripples outward…That is my hope and my prayer…a mission of Peace.
And one more thing….Interviews with Jean Bolen, feminist and peace activist
On this third day of school since the tragedy in Connecticut, as I dropped my daughter off in front of the school, I observed not one child going to the side door, that is always kept locked, and asking to be let inside by students. This is a door that my daughter used to use to save time in the morning. At one point weeks ago I saw her turned away from the door and after school she reported that the teachers were yelling at the students inside to NOT open the door. Neither of us got the reason at the time….duh! But that was one of the first things I thought of on Friday…as I attempted to digest the horrible news: “Oh so that’s why they don’t want the kids opening the door for students outside,” and one of the first things I said to my daughter this past Friday afternoon as I, not part of my normal routine, picked her up from school. I wanted to see her smiling face and hug her to me….something the parents of the young victims at Sandy Hook Elementary will never be able to do again…..
You can tell at my daughter’s school that parents and their kids have talked about the tragedy in Connecticut by the fact that not one of the students, that I’ve seen these past three mornings, has attempted to be let into the school building through that side door. The administration at the school also had a lock-down drill yesterday, which I had “E” describe to me. And the district website has a letter on it, from the superintendent, addressing the Sandy Hook tragedy and the district’s response to it…. all of which is not surprising. What is surprising is hearing republican pro-gun proponents, legislators included, speak out on the subject of gun control, saying that changes must be made. Also surprising is learning that the owner of the company that makes one of the weapons, used by the shooter on Friday, has put the company up for sale, (click on link to see article) which maybe shouldn’t be so surprising as PR and image are such important aspects of a successful business. Children and teachers fallen at the hands of someone wielding such a weapon certainly does not make for good PR or a positive image for any company.
Sadly what isn’t surprising is hearing that the sale of that exact weapon has increased to the point that one merchant, who sells guns in his sporting goods store in Seattle, said that there were more customers for the gun than there was inventory on hand; and that is in progressive Seattle. These customers are afraid, not so much for their safety as for their right to “bear arms” being restricted or taken away. And there is the local middle school student who is reported to have come to school on Monday with an unloaded pistol, who said he was encouraged by his parents to bring the gun to school for his protection….So certainly there are people afraid for their children’s lives and certainly that child has absorbed his parent’s fear as well….
In the meantime there is a “fiscal cliff” our country is on the verge of toppling off of and legislators who are insisting on cuts to existing social programs to make fair the President’s push for a raising of taxes on Americans making upwards of $400,000 per year. If these cuts include funding for mental health it will, of course, be nothing new to that sector of our population as past President Ronald Reagan dealt a huge blow to funding for treatment of people with mental health issues back in the 80s.
I’m just wondering when we as a nation of people who, according to our President, have the responsibility of taking care of our children and, as he so eloquently stated when he spoke at the Monday evening memorial service for the community of Newton, Connecticut, they are ALL our children, will stop allowing ourselves to be bullied by people who have so much more than enough of money, guns, POWER. I’m also just wondering when we will begin to delve deeper than mass ownership of weapons and issues of mental health and lack of treatment for it that is effective, accessible and affordable, to the issue of how imbued with violence our society and our lives are.
Because if we as a society of people cannot begin to address this core issue then how can we truly take care of our children as our first and foremost task, and give to them a society that is worthy of their innocence and potential for great good?
This post was made by one of the bloggers whom I follow. She strives to make her posts positive and uplifting and I find them to be so. Her response to today’s tragedy in Connecticut, in the form of this post of thoughtfully chosen quotes, is one I felt I needed to share. Thank you to her!