In the mid-to-late 1960s, I grew up in Westport, CT, 22 miles from Newton where the horrific massacre of 20 elementary school children and 6 adults occurred on Friday, Dec. 14. There was considerable turbulence in the 60s as people argued over the Vietnam War and the wanton killing of civilians – but no one ever thought such violence would ever be visited on any of our bucolic Connecticut towns. Certainly, no one ever imagined the massacre of innocent children.
I use the word “massacre” deliberately because, while this is a “tragedy” – it was preventable and we all bear a degree of responsibility for allowing gun proliferation and gun violence to get out of control in America. When did fear of the National Rifle Association (NRA) become more important than the safety of our children? When did it become acceptable to hunt deer with an Uzi submachine gun that you can buy online?
And as the country has this discussion about Second Amendment rights and President Obama’s call for “meaningful change” in gun regulation – let us also have another conversation about the importance of our first responders – the worth of whom has been so denigrated during the outrageous union-busting efforts in some states – and realize that our first responders are now our teachers, too.
As I watched the ABC News story below about the Newton victims, I was struck by the comments of the reporter who talked about how every parent in America will fear taking their children to school Monday morning – for now even an elementary school is no longer a safe haven. How did we let that happen?
There is no “silver lining” here – but if there is some light of goodness – it is the empathy shown by Robbie Parker, whose daughter Emilie was murdered: he expressed sympathy for the family of the shooter, too. And it is in the shared grief of a nation – that illuminates the “good” in the darkness of our collective soul. May we really take action this time to prevent future massacres and senseless tragedies – for the sake of the children.