Eventually I had to put pen to paper to work through my feelings of loss, helplessness and frustration. I promise, tomorrow you’ll see the status quo. Normalcy can be a wonderful coping mechanism. It’s just gut wrenching to think our new normal increasingly includes the unconscionable loss of innocent children at the hands of unimaginable violence.
The tragedy at Columbine wasn’t normal. Neither is Sandy Hook’s carnage normal, but the loss of lives at the hands of a crazed gunman seems all too familiar thirteen years after the first blip registered on the radar screen of schools across our society. That’s what really bothers me. When I connect the dots, each tragedy a greater weight to bear in my head and heart, I can’t fathom the picture that continues to emerge.
I taught in one of America’s high school classrooms when Columbine reshaped the landscape of my work day. I went through my share of lockdowns (not drills). Before there was even a name to put to the face of society’s new norm, I’d come face to face with that new norm. Violence is never pretty. Fortunately my student didn’t have a gun to add fuel to the fire that ignited his sudden and inexplicably violent behavior. That fire burned in his eyes for 10 minutes until help arrived.
I think most of us are aware the enemy is within our borders, a seemingly normal friend, neighbor, or student wounded by life, genetics, family, society. It’s what makes the battle that much more insidious. Those wounded children are growing up to be angry adults.
We ask why, when really we want more than a confirmation of our deepest fears; unimaginable, inexplicable, unpredicatable violence. Which makes finding any solutions that much more difficult.
My children are now on the front lines of this war, my grandchildren in the classrooms.
Newtown’s loss is humanity’s loss. We feel it; we share it; our hearts go out to this small New England community. We know we’re in trouble, even as the rest of us return to our insular lives and our first amendment rights while the wave of violence grows like a tsunami offshore.
Whether it’s a single child or the horror of twenty lives snuffed out in a single act of incredible violence, when we can’t protect and properly provide for every single one of our children, then we jeopardize the only future our children have. That picture is unimaginable; as is the loss of Charlotte Bacon, 6, Daniel Barden, 7, Olivia Engel, 6, Josephine Gay, 7, Ana Marquez-Greene, 6, Dylan Hockley, 6, Madeline Hsu, 6, Catherine Hubbard, 6, Chase Kowalski, 7, Jesse Lewis, 6, James Mattioli, 6, Grace McDonnell, 7, Emilie Parker, 6, Jack Pinto, 6, Noah Pozner, 6, Caroline Previdi, 6, Jessica Rekos, 6, Avielle Richman, 6, Benjamin Wheeler, 6, and Allison Wyatt, 6.
I’m disheartened and disillusioned the only solution to the problem last Friday, despite the school’s best efforts to provide a safe and secure home away from home for Newtown’s children, cost the lives of Dawn Hocksprung, Mary Sherlach, Victoria Soto, Rachel Davino, Anne Marie Murphy, and Lauren Russeau.
I pray we find a better solution soon.