Last night, I got cross at my seven year old son. It's not an infrequent occurrence, usually a pretty minor crime like ignoring (repeated) requests to put away a toy, or focus on his math homework. Last night, it was an all-too-typical infraction: during dinner, he just would not sit in his chair properly, and thus spilled some of his cake on the table. I angrily asked him, "what is wrong with you? Why can't you sit in a chair properly, like the rest of the human race."
Today, I am confronted with a terrible story; truly, an awful, horrible and tragic event. Not all of the details are yet known, but as of right now, it appears that a 20 year old man has gone into an elementary school in Newtown, CT, and killed 27 people. 18 of them are children, ages between 5 and 10. No "reason" is given, though comments are that the 'gunman' had some connection to the school, and it is presumed was upset about something there.
Daily, our news contains typically awful stories of mayhem and violence. A few days ago, another 'gunman' went into a shopping mall in suburban Oregon and opened fire. Gun (and other) violence are all too familiar.
I seldom feel affected by the news - usually, I read the story, chalk it up to the crude, brutish nature of the human race, and move on.
But there is something about this story that I find affects me unlike other stories have.
I don't say (or write) this very often, but the emerging narrative from Newtown, CT has actually, literally, left me feeling stunned and shaken. There is an overwhelming, and awful, feeling of anger and sadness that I'm struggling to control.
I really don't know exactly what to say, or think. Is it because I have a small child of about the same age? The time of year (Christmas holidays)? Maybe the oncoming cold that has left me a bit off to begin with, or the Tylenol Multi-Symptom cold remedy?
It's all too easy to try to just get mad and talk about how the killer is crazy, or that guns are too easy to get, or that our national culture is a sewer of nihilism and violence.
All of these are true, no doubt.
But still. 27 people have been murdered. 18 of them are less than 10 years of age. Why?
My son probably will tonight, again, fail to sit properly in his chair at the table. But he also will be able to sleep in his own warm, safe bed.