News of a school shooting came through the car stereo this morning as we listened on our way to work. This would mark the 31st known school shooting in America since the events at Columbine 13 years ago, if we are to believe Twitter. We did not imagine the horror that had unfolded this morning.
A gunman in Newton, Connecticut strapped on a bullet-proof vest, marched into an elementary school, and killed 27 people, including 18 young children. It was an unfathomable act of violence that has become all too fathomable in society today.
It is difficult to put words down when you are a cauldron of roiling emotions, and I am not even remotely connected to the incident. My heart breaks for these children and their families. My anger boils over.
For some, including the White House, this is not the time to talk about gun control. Quiet sadness is the appropriate emotion as decreed by our leaders and those who would silence our anger and incredulity.
When is it convenient to discuss the matter? Next week as we tear into our Christmas presents and eat ourselves into a food coma? After we spend countless hours debating a “fiscal cliff?” When we inevitably fall back into the contented haze of life our first world offers?
We are encouraged to become numb to these events when we should be truly outraged. We are told not to politicize this tragic event, that we must simply mourn. This isn’t a political rallying point, it’s about trying to prevent horrific acts of violence. That it is instantly politicized is a travesty, but it is a fact of our modern life.
It is okay to weep in silence for these children, pound your fist in anger at the perpetrator and voice your repugnance about this all-too-common occurrence all at once. Being stricken with grief does not mean you should be stricken with pusillanimity. This should be a call to action, not silence. We should not be hushed by the crowd demanding respect for the dead.
The dead demand respect by action.
This is another sad day in a cycle of morbid events in our modern history. We are traveling backwards as a society as we allow those who would propel us in that direction to quell our emotions.
Gun control is no panacea, but the status quo is unacceptable. We must find ways to remove these weapons, so easily obtainable and used by evil and mentally unstable individuals and groups, from their hands.
We must find ways to fund and deliver mental healthcare and education to those who live on the fringes of stability and society.
We must do better as human beings.