After Friday's tragic shooting at Sandy Hook School in Newtown, Connecticut, what is there to say? There are no words.
Of course, the television media has plenty to say.
In a misguided effort to assign blame, television reports inferred the shooter's Asperger syndrome, an autism spectrum disorder, caused his actions. Nancy Lanza's gun possession and alleged willingness to allow her son, Adam, to practice shooting have also been suggested as the cause of the tragedy. It's irresponsible for newscasters to propose either scenario. While it's human nature to ferret out a cause in order to comprehend the incomprehensible, what we are really doing is seeking to remove ourselves from the equation. If “this” or “that” is to blame, and “this” or “that” is alien to my own life, then such horror could not happen in my child's school. Thus, we listen to the media's sometimes disrespectful assessments, but we must do so with intelligence and caution.
Inevitably, politics mixes with grief and confusion. Gun control is once again a hot issue. People on both sides react passionately. The Huffington Post reports Mr. Crockett Keller, a Texas gun store owner, is offering local teachers a 10% discount on the cost of attending his concealed handguns class, while several NFL players have surrendered their personal firearms in the wake of the recent Jovan Belcher murder-suicide. Whether or not you support either of these actions reflects your position on the second amendment and gun control, but all responses must be tempered with reason to keep rampant fear in check.
Where there is politics, there is God. People like to toss Him into the mix to spice things up a bit. Former Arkansas governor Mike Huckabee claims the Newtown massacre was no surprise because we “have systematically removed God from public schools.” A similar, philosophical comment credited to Morgan Freeman went viral on the internet. Though the comment was a hoax, it sparked similar remarks all over facebook. Apparently, public schools without God equals carnage. Last time I checked, God “began at home.”
It never ceases to amaze me when acquaintances of perpetrators instantly crawl out of the woodwork to grab their fifteen minutes of fame at someone else's expense. Thanks to reporters scrambling to put something on the air, Adam Lanza's former babysitter and a fellow classmate have appeared on several news broadcasts. Their comments may or may not be relevant, but their integrity is questionable, as is tabloid journalism masquerading as legitimate news.
Like you, I pray for the victims, for their families, for the survivors. The outpouring of love and support is life affirming. However, let us not forget Adam Lanza and Nancy Lanza were members of a family. Adam had a brother, a father. Let us pray also for the the Lanza family. This is their tragedy as well.
While the motivation for facebook postings and memorials for the victims is understandable – strangers want to do something – such things seem superfluous. One facebook poster said it best: “If you really want to make the world a brighter place and show the world that these things affect you, instead of "liking" a picture of a candle on facebook or writing an all-caps status about gun control (for or against), try being extra kind to your fellow human being.”
Bravo! That says it all...be extra kind to your fellow human being. In kindness, there is love, mercy, hope. And that's what is needed now for Newtown, Connecticut and the entire world.