Friday, December 14, 2012

Sandy Hook Elementary

Photo courtesy of the News Times.
I woke today to the early reports of violence on the Sandy Hook Elementary School campus in Newtown, Connecticut.  A gunman stormed the principal's office, then his mother's kindergarten class.  In minutes,20-year-old Adam Lanza, holding his brother Ryan Lanza's ID, was dead.  So were his mother, and six other adults.  So were 20 children, probably five-year-olds.

My heart is broken.

I visit elementary schools all over the country.  I visit those same kindergarten classrooms, where there shiny little faces are so new and so excited they are impossible not to adore.  They ask in appropriate questions.  They spin.  They giggle.  They love.  They radiate hope and promise -- perfect little clean slates eager to learn and connect in any way possible.

What could drive a young man -- a good looking kid who looks like my daughter's friends -- to gun down his mother and 20 of her tiny students with two semi-automatic pistols?  What statement could he be hoping to make by going to her school to take his last stand?  Why claim those perfect, innocent victims along with his mother?  

Where did we go wrong?

I hear cries of gun control, and I agree.  We need to find a way to keep guns out of the hands of people likely to snap.  But how can we tell which people will turn to violence?

I hear cries of tighter security at schools.  But locked doors would have opened easily to the son of a teacher at the school.  No one would have suspected he was a danger, would they?

It's all speculation at this point.  But could the shooter have suffered with mental health issues?  Seems pretty crazy to gun down a classroom full of kids, if you ask me.  Kids exactly like those kids that welcome me every time I visit a school.   Was this young man mentally ill and we simply missed it?  If he was, how can we get better at recognizing and correcting the symptoms of the mentally ill?

I remember, vividly, the year Ronald Reagan turned the mentally ill out onto the streets, saying inpatient treatment was cheaper...that there was no need for mental hospitals that cost the taxpayers so much money.  I remember the immediate rise of homeless people who may have planned to take their meds, but somehow forgot or got confused or couldn't afford them.

I am a flaming liberal, but I hesitate to take guns from responsible gun owners. I know a lot of people who keep them safely for self defense or as collectors.  They don't worry me -- now.  But I do wonder how we can be sure those reliable people will never slip over to the dark side?  We can't be sure about that.  Depression strikes, as do other common mental illnesses.  So it seems to me, we can only hope to prevent this kind of violence by being more careful about who gets guns AND by tending to people with mental illness more effectively. 

Most importantly, the discussions have to begin.  We don't need defensive nonsense from partisan mouth pieces.  We need real conversations from all sides.  We need to find a way to better protect our kindergarteners, our middle schoolers, our high schoolers, our college campuses, even our parents and grandparents.

We have to TALK ABOUT IT to make it better.  Period.

I'm in tears thinking about those perfect little people, their lives cut short.  Senseless can be defined by this shooters selfish choices.  We will never know what magic they did and would have brought to our world.  But the loss is immeasurable.

In the days and weeks to come, please let us do SOMETHING so they will not have died for nothing.

My heart is broken.  Those kids, like all kids, were my tribe.  I wish their parents any comfort they can find.  I wish, how I wish, there was something I could do to help them.


No comments:

Post a Comment