As with the rest of the world, I am deeply troubled by the events in Newtown, CT that occurred yesterday, 12/14/12. The thought of a man walking into an elementary school and gunning down 20 innocent children, some as young as 5 years old, is simply incomprehensible. This person also killed his own mother and 6 other adults.
Earlier in the week, as I am sure most people in America are aware, there was another senseless shooting in this country. The killer this time was another young man. He walked into a crowded shopping mall in Portland, Oregon and killed 2 people, a 54 year old mother and a 45 year old father, and seriously wounded a 15 year old girl. These people were strangers to him and to each other.
I don’t think that, even after the most exhaustive investigations, we ever will really understand why any human being could do something like these men, and too many others, have done. And that is terrifying. Knowing that anyone can be going about their lives, shopping or enjoying a movie, going to work or school even just waiting for a subway, only to encounter a disturbed individual hell-bent on taking lives is almost paralyzing. It is almost enough to make a person want to live forever behind a curtain of safety, never leaving home. That isn’t how I want to live my life though.
I am going to follow some advice I had read yesterday that has been attributed to Fred Rogers: “When I was a boy and I would see scary things in the news, my mother would say to me, ‘Look for the helpers. You will always find people who are helping.’ To this day, especially in times of ‘disaster,’ I remember my mother’s words, and I am always comforted by realizing that there are still so many helpers – so many caring people in this world.” — Mister Rogers
We’ll be hearing reports in the next few days, and maybe weeks, of the heroes of Sandy Hook Elementary. I think we should focus our thoughts on them; people like music teacher Maryrose Kristopik who had quickly huddled her small students in a closet, held them close and gently spoke to them trying to calm them, while the shooter was banging on their door screaming to be let in. Or the teacher who barricaded a door with her own body to prevent the shooter from gaining access to the room and was shot through the door in her arm and leg. These are the people I will look to in this time of horror. There are way more people willing to help, I believe, then those who hurt. And that is what will get me through this. Thank you, Mr. Rogers.