Thoughts on yet another senseless tragedy


Dear Karen,

I don’t want to sound heartless or callous, but I’m tired of reading about outpourings of sadness and tears for those involved or how this wasn’t god’s will, or any of the other trite things people say when they want to show how caring and loving they are.

No one wants to address what’s staring them in the face…or at least, it seems that way to me. If I were ever in such a sad situation as the families involved, I’d want to wring the necks of people telling me my kid was a hero or an “angel” now, or sending me their prayers and good wishes…

“I don’t want your damn prayers or compliments about a child you never knew”, I’d think to myself. “Meeting the President isn’t going to make my baby come back to me, nor are your Facebook wishes from the warmth and safety of your own family home. Just leave me and my family alone to suffer in private. Please.”

It just makes me so angry that this could have happened. The idea that little children should die because a mentally unstable 20-year-old had access to semi-automatic weaponry makes me lower my head in shame and horror.

What can I say that hasn’t been said before? Not sure. I think America’s gun laws are archaic and plain ridiculous, and bringing out the old saw that “guns don’t kill people, people kill people” just burns me up. It’s trite, it’s simplistic, a great sound bite, and it’s totally not true. Try going on a killing spree using a butter knife and see what the results will be.

I’d like to ask, why is this considered the “second worst gun rampage” in the history of the U.S.? Is there some sort of competition going on? Are we actually so callous that we’re keeping score? Who thinks to themselves, “Oh shit, if I work harder and get more ammo, I can beat the asshole who killed those kids at Virginia Tech”?

When listening to the radio this morning, I heard something I never in my life expected to hear on the news: an interview with a little child from the school, one of the lucky ones who made it through that horrific day physically unscathed. Who authorized interviewing a 5 year old child?? As his parent, I would have kept that little boy, who spoke eloquently, but didn’t offer us anything an adult couldn’t have, as far away from the media as possible. Media has no right to ask him to speak, and his parents, who I would assume are in shock themselves and unaware of the consequences of giving their son his 15 minutes of fame so early in his life, should not have allowed it. Isn’t it bad enough he had to live through what will undoubtedly be the worst day of his life, without forcing him to sit in front of microphones, TV cameras and inquisitive adult faces, none of whom are his parents’ loving and caring ones?

My heart breaks for each family of each child and teacher involved that day. I fervently hope that their faces and names aren’t forgotten, pushed aside when the next rampage occurs. This must be the last killing, the final time a parent has to receive that horrible phone call to say their child had died a senseless, painful and totally preventable death.

Love,

Wendy

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37 thoughts on “Thoughts on yet another senseless tragedy

    • You’re right Pam, these tragedies become fodder for the media outlets at some point – I remember Anderson Cooper talking outside the cinema in Colorado (?) this summer, patting himself on the back for refusing to say the gunman’s name, as if that somehow made him more noble and honourable than other news anchors. Good lord, people just DIED, Anderson. I don’t care about your stand at this moment.
      Sorry, I’ll get off my soapbox now.

  1. I’ve felt the same way since the moment I learned of it. I was freaking out, all over Twitter, saying you can say “sending love and prayers” all over the place but what the FLIP are you going to do to protect our babies in the future?! I think it was misdirected anger and grief, but still, you put it into better words than I could. Thanks for having the guts to say it strongly.

  2. i think it’s more time that they start looking at mental health and how they handle and treat it in the US. No matter what happens with guns, someone who is mentally ill and has the urge to do something horrible is going to find a way, even if we make it really hard. Its all very sad. I came across this article and cannot even imagine how scary that would be. http://gawker.com/5968818/i-am-adam-lanzas-mother

    • K, of course you are right. Guns allow for more damage, but your point is right. If we had more resources for social support, most importantly mental health services, that would be fantastic. I’ve always had this crazy idea: figure out how much it costs per year to incarcerate a human. According to this link, a few years ago it was almost $50K!! http://www.lao.ca.gov/laoapp/laomenus/sections/crim_justice/6_cj_inmatecost.aspx?catid=3
      Then instead, allocate that amount of money per household in neighborhoods most at risk (their kids are most likely to grow up to live in prison.) The money could be spent on after school ed and activities, parks, public transportation, public gardens, health care, whatEVER. Hell, spend HALF of the cost of incarceration, it would still be $25K per house. And with economies of scale, you could get even more bang for the buck. The ultimate goal would be that you could keep kids out of prison but also have a more educated, self-sufficient, tax-paying citizenry. This seems so obvious I can’t believe we haven’t at least tried it somewhere!

  3. Wendy, Thank you for collecting your thoughts enough to summarize some of the emotions and reactions that went through all our heads and thank you for linking to other perspectives, including my own inital reactions on Reason Creek before the first press conference even let us know the extent of the horror.

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    • “So damn helpless”, is exactly how I feel. Who knows how to tackle the culture of violence? Not me. I’m certainly not an expert and living so far away from my children, worry about this constantly. Thanks for writing, Carol.

  5. Very well written (as usual). Big gratitude for synthesizing your thoughts so well when many of us are still flopping around helplessly with our feelings on what unfolded and what it says about us and the world. The public outpouring of tears and sadness does not trouble me. I look at it as a collective hand-wringing. We grieve too, remotely and vicariously but also directly as humans. What can we do with all of that in these first days? I did not hear the interview with the child and I am shocked by it. I am struggling not to judge the parents, who are likely numb and stunned dealing with the trauma of what their child and community have been through. There is no script for that. But what about press standards? A 5 year old interviewee?! What were they thinking? That is predatory. They should be hanging their heads in shame. There is a reason we have limits / protections on minors testifying in our courts. On another point – I am in favor of gun control, but as an American I am not hopeful we will achieve it in any meaningful way. I appreciate the thinking of Lynne Speer and K above about the mental health components too. I read the piece, “I am Adam Lanza’s Mother,” on Huffington Post yesterday. http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/12/16/i-am-adam-lanzas-mother-mental-illness-conversation_n_2311009.html It is a brave statement and I have turned it over and over in my head and heart as I think about what Mrs. Lanza must have gone through in the years and days leading up to Friday. May she rest peacefully.

  6. Thanks for the taking the time to write here, Zellabea; I agree that it’s important to grieve, question and cry. As for the interview with the child, I actually heard 2 interviews, but I’m not sure if it was the same child or two separate ones. Both were on the BBC service.
    I read the I Am Adam Lanza’s article as well and just can’t imagine what kind of life she must have had. It’s a desperately sad situation.
    W.

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  9. I agree 100 percent. I was horrified that the little boy was interviewed as well. These families need a lot of time to grieve. I can’t come up with any explanation other than this was a very troubled young man who at the very least, needed help and probably needed it for a long time. I just can’t get passed it. My heart weeps. Laurie

  10. Thanks for articulating this so well, Wendy, and for directing us, your readers, to the viewpoints of others. I love your feistiness! So far, I have been unable to get past my soppy emotions to get feisty enough to write about my feelings on this tragedy but if I hear one more American profess that “our nation was founded on the right to bear arms” I might puke.

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