Anyone who follows me on social media knows that I have been sharing a good number of articles, posts, and other pieces regarding the horrific tragedy in Newtown, CT. I am not alone. Since Friday, it has become the dominant topic on my Facebook News Feed, my Twitter feed, and my Google+ feed.
Beyond what I have been sharing, however, I find that I have been thinking about this event a lot. It has been on my mind constantly throughout the weekend, and it has brought me close to tears — and to tears — on several occasions.
The sheer magnitude of such an event is hard to fathom. There have been other mass shootings, other shootings at schools, and other shootings involving children. But never in recent memory can I recall a situation where 20 children — all either 6 or 7 years of age — have been massacred.
Last week, we had the children from the College’s Child Development Center in our lounge. The first time was for a party just for them. The second time was for the College holiday party, at which they sang. These children — about 20 of them — are all pre-kindergarten age, only a few years younger than the victims at Sandy Hook Elementary School. Having them around, with their infectious smiles and giggles, their wide-eyed wonderment, and their endless number of questions and ability to talk authoritatively on almost any subject made my heart smile. Having been around them so recently, I can’t help but think what if it had been them in that classroom, and that thought breaks my heart.
Hearing the stories of bravery by the principal, staff, and teachers is inspiring, but it also makes me think of the horrific odds they were fighting against. Thinking about the school principal throwing herself at the gunman in an attempt to stop him is almost too much for me to handle. I (we) cannot help but ask what I would have done in a similar situation. I hope that I never have to find out, but I feel deep in my soul that I would have done the same, whether it was to protect my students, my friends, or my family.
Whenever anyone spouts some indefensible rhetoric about the rights of gun owners, I want to dismantle their argument piece by piece. I want to ask them if they would have the same opinion if it had been their child, their niece, their nephew, their cousin, or their neighbor in that school. I want to scream at the folks at the right who are saying that Obama is coming for their guns. I want to scream at the folks on the left who are advocating outlawing all firearms. I want everyone to take a step back and realize that out of this absolute horror, something good can come. Something good has to come.
There will be time to debate the Second Amendment, a new ban on assault rifles, and the balance we have to strike between our freedoms and preventing another tragedy like this one. Now, though, we must focus on comforting the parents and the community in Newtown who have lost so much. We must also focus on comforting one another, and resolve that we will do whatever is necessary to make sure no more children are lost to such senseless violence.