I have deliberately NOT written about the horrific massacre in Newtown, Connecticut that took place just before Christmas. Singularly, I felt that nothing could be gained emotionally by writing about it, and as a parent it is drastically difficult to think about such a detestable act being reality. First, and foremost, my sincerest apologies to all involved, however directly or indirectly related to the tragedy that took place on that fateful day. Please understand my intentions in this writing are motivated solely by my humblest attempts to reconcile what happened, and in no way are meant to dissect, offend, or critique the actions of anyone at all.
My daughter is 8, and is the same age as many of the children who either lost their lives or watched their friends lose theirs in the shooting. I cannot grasp that fact. Hearing about children being killed somehow makes more of an impact on me than hearing of the massacres of adults, which, in turn, is sad in its own way. As a nation we have become so desensitized to hearing about the routine slaughter of individuals, that it only stands out to us now when it is an act of supreme abomination, such as the murder of a child or children. I am sorry about us, and I am sorry for us. I am sorry about the conspiracy theories that are circulating the internet these days proclaiming connections between President Obama, the author of The Hunger Games, or even loose ties to the most recent Batman movie. It is a sad day in our society when the tragic annihilation of schoolchildren by a man with hatred in his heart is not sick enough to be believed on its own. Conspiracy theorists are not held liable for the tales they tell like the media. No one gets fired when a conspiracy theorist spreads hatred and fear with no grounds in proof or actual fact. No one is surprised when they are wrong, but many people are hurt from their lies. I am sorry for these preposterous stories that are taking away from the actual hurt and the actual lives that have been forever changed by this event. It’s not fair.
I, like many parents, wondered whether I should talk to my child about this tragedy. I wondered if I should, and I wondered how I should. As I turned these questions over and over in my mind while my daughter was at school that day, one thing became clear to me and I immediately decided to talk to Sierra about it. Children not only should know about something like this, they are more capable of truly understanding all of the ugliness of the world better than anyone else. Quite simply, children are still human. They are more human than the rest of us. They hurt easily, they feel fully, and they love freely. We should all aspire to be more like our children. When I told Sierra about what happened, she cried. In her tender heart, she felt the pain of innocence that all of us should feel, and she cried bitterly for those lost lives that were just beginning. I have no regrets in telling her.
I am not going to talk about guns in this article. I am not writing this to start a fight, on one side of this debate or another. I want to talk about something else. I am sure most people’s children, like mine, go to a public school that also, rightly so, caters to special needs kids. As children in school, they integrate on many levels both socially and educationally quite well. They also have no problems with this arrangement; kids are accepting of differences in a way that adults aren’t. At what point in our society do people with special needs become social pariahs? At what point in our society do the kids who were raised to equally respect and admire children with special needs decide to turn their backs on anyone who is different, and distance themselves from helping, understanding, or in any way socially interacting with them? The mental health industry in this country is appallingly limited and, unfortunately, I don’t see that changing anytime soon, because it is easier to shut away problems than to deal with them. Loneliness is a deep and lasting form of abuse, and the end result can be witnessed in anyone who can walk into a school with murderous intent. As technological advances are made, we as humans become more and more primitive. Yes, I can Skype with people around the world, but that isn’t the same as connecting with someone in an actual conversation. Yes, I can efficiently send a text message to a friend I haven’t spoken with in a while, but it will never compete with a hand-written letter for sincerity. Humans are hedonistic at the very base of things. Forming relationships is scary. We may get hurt, judged, laughed at, teased, talked about, or any number of other uncomfortable instances. While we humans have these incredible tools at our disposal to make the world a better, more peaceful place, we won’t use them for that. Ever. We will use them to detach ourselves quite effectively from ever having to feel again. When we stop feeling, we stop being human. When we can sit idly by and cast away any and all who are different because it is easier than interacting with them when they run on a different wavelength, we stop being human. When we stop placing the same value on all human life, despite IQ, race, creed, gender, belief, bank account, or internal struggle, the human life decreases in value to zero. When something ceases to be valued, it is disposed of. When a person has never felt they are important in the life of someone else, they do not realize the importance of life in general. When living is not important, it is easy to dispose of the lives of others and oneself. Anger and hatred are learned and reactionary behaviors, not innate. The cause and effects of the Newtown tragedy are being overlooked, and that is sad, because it means that we are not working toward the correct change.
I told Sierra about Newtown because I knew that she would understand the terror behind this attack on a more simplistic and truer way than even I do. Our kids interact with other human beings of all walks of life every single day with more heart and truth than any adult you will ever encounter. They are taught more tolerance, more patience, and more perfect love than any adult you will ever encounter. They are the only true humans left on this earth. It is my sincerest wish that Sierra never becomes dead to the hurt that we humans inflict on one another without batting an eye. Hatred, indifference, and solitude are more effective weapons than guns and knives, and often do more lasting damage. I will always want her to feel, for that is truly the only way we as a species can save ourselves from ourselves. We are self-destructing, and while our bubbles of perfection and safety pop all around us, it seems that only the children weep.
Live. (and more importantly) Love.
Our thoughts are with Newtown, and with the world.