Saturday, December 15, 2012

Trying to make sense...

Since my move across town I am much nearer to the ocean but I've not taken advantage of the proximity nearly enough.  Today I found I not only had the time but also the need.  Like many of us the news of yesterday's shooting in Connecticut has weighed heavily on my mind.

Growing up I lived with the fear that at any moment nuclear bombs could begin falling from the sky. In my ten year old imagination I thought that the sound a missile would make was similar to that of a rocket ship and so I lay awake at night listening to low flying planes pass over our house and wondering if the rumble of their engines signaled the beginning of the end of life as I knew it.

When I expressed my fears my parents encouraged me to write to President Reagan, to make known my wish that we get rid of these horrible weapons so that we could all have a future and I could sleep at night.  .  As the years passed I wrote more letters and though the threat didn't go away somehow I learned to live with it.  Eventually the cold war ended and despite the continued existence of these weapons we all felt the world was a safer place.

As I sat seeking peace by the ocean this morning I thought about the children of our country today and wondered if any of them look towards their classroom doors with the same kind of fear my younger self had experienced listening to the skies at night.  I think perhaps what they feel is even more difficult to deal with.  No one could promise me that a nuclear war couldn't happen, but writing all of those letters gave me some small sense of control and opened up the possibility that I could do something about this potential terror.  I had someone I could turn to, someone who seemed to be in a position of power and prevention over this threat and say, "Please do something about this."

This threat however is not an arsenal of weapons with a Commander in Chief who has the power to say yes or, please, no to the release the threat.  There is no one person to whom we direct them to so that they may make a plea for change.

We can blame the gunman for his horrible acts, and we should, but we want to find some explanation for the increase in these events. Facebook and Twitter are today full of calls for more gun control, less gun control, restoring funding for mental health, finger pointing to the right and to the left, and at the killers' childhoods.  We point the finger at ourselves, knowing we are a part of the culture and society that produces people who do such horrible things.

And maybe it is within ourselves that our power resides.  In the immediate we can only extend comfort to the victims families and parents can try to offer some explanation to their children as to why this person did what he did and hope their arms are enough to make them feel safe again. In the long term, it is all of us who must strive to become more compassionate beings working towards creating a peaceful world where the night skies are full of nothing but stars and the classroom fills our children's minds with dreams of the future instead of nightmares.

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