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My son and daughter are 10 and 7 years old. On Friday night, as news of the Newtown “massacre” broke, and after the children had been tucked safely in their beds, I sat down in my rocking chair and allowed myself to imagine what it would be like to be one of the Sandy Hook Elementary parents whose child had been murdered, or perhaps worse, the surviving parent of Adam Lanza.
But I couldn’t stay in that terrible place in my head and heart for very long. It was with a tremendous gush of relief and gratitude that I emerged, and went to embrace my peacefully sleeping children.
I had to reassure myself that they were alive, well and happy.
But 28 Newton families cannot escape this new reality. They are in lock down for life, trapped in a world where their child never grows up, or a wife never returns home. They have no choice but to deal with it. Ad nauseam. Ad infinitum. And probably on their knees, for a while at least.
While each of us, who has escaped such a terrible fate, bustles about preparing for holiday festivities—ironically, the season of good will towards all humanity—we cannot avoid the spiritual taint of Newtown, and all that it implies.
Lest we forget, humanity’s appetite for inflicting horrors on children is not new, as my husband was quick to remind me when I hinted this might be an “American problem”. In 1996, a Scottish pedophile, Thomas Hamilton, opened up on a kindergarten class in the town of Dunblane (http://en NULL.wikipedia NULL.org/wiki/Dunblane_school_massacre) with four handguns, killing 16 children between the ages of 5 and 6, along with their teacher.
Will gun control solve the problem?
In the past, the issue has always been a source of intense debate at my house, usually with me against, and the other half protecting his “right to bear arms”. We’ve learned that there’s no simple answer to this question.
However, what we do know is that society is adept at creating WMD’s in the minds of its people.
Every time we bully, ridicule, project our hatred onto others—or perhaps just fail to be sensitive to the fragility of the human psyche and how much we all need so desperately to be loved—we are building weapons in the minds of the vanquished that may later return in the form of another Adam Lanza to haunt us, or forever destroy our peace of mind.
If society cannot claim “mea culpa”, who should? A dead twenty-year-old kid? I doubt his shoulders are big enough to bear the full brunt of it.
Still, as I witness the parents of Sandy Hook rise up to bear the burden of their terrible loss with such grace and love, I am reminded that all is not lost for us–provided we see the light. While every parent cannot help but think “there, but for the grace of God, go I”, we must also acknowledge our collective debt to them.
Let us pray for the families of Newtown. Let us pray for the hope that we can change.
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