“Here comes the orator! With his flood of words, and his drop of reason.” — Benjamin Franklin
I usually begin each blog post with a quote from a famous person that I believe is pertinent to the subject of the post. I realize I have used this quote by Benjamin Franklin before, but I could not find a more appropriate drop of wisdom for this post than the one from Mr. Franklin. I therefore apologize for the redundancy.
Yesterday I attended a family Christmas party hosted by my sister-in-law, a fourth grade school teacher and my daughter-in-law who has two daughters in school — one in elementary school and the other in middle school.
I was hesitant to bring up the subject of the Newtown school massacre, but somewhere in the conversations the subject was broached My daughter-in-law left the room and my son said that she just could not watch or talk about the subject as it upset her so very much. I can understand her emotions as she feared for the safety of my granddaughters and hearing the constant news reports she was translating them to her own life — a perfectly natural and human action of a caring mother.
I did not discuss the issue with my sister-in-law for two reasons. One she was busy preparing the dinner and second I felt this was not the appropriate time to discuss school safety with her. There will be plenty of time for that at a future date.
With that said I am not insensitive to the reports of the killer’s motives, mental health, or how he carried out this massacre. Most of these reports are not very accurate and are changing almost on an hourly basis as investigators release more information. Also, I am not indifferent to the stories of heroism of the teachers and the parents of the victims. I understand the 24/7 news cycle and the business of TV news. This is a big and ongoing story and there no doubt is a great desire by the viewing public to learn as much as they can as fast as possible. But at some point we need time to grieve for the victims and their families — including the family of the killer.
There have been school shootings before but this one was particularly painful to learn about.
In the first place the children were so young and innocent — kindergartners. In the second, it is the season when young children are especially full of happiness. Their homes are filled with Chanukah and Christmas decorations and gifts. Their houses smell of yummy things to eat. Families make a special effort to be together for the holidays. One account of the incident underscores this. Kaitlin Roig, who rescued her first grade students by locking them in the bathroom and barricading the door, told reporters, "The kids were being so good. They asked: 'Can we go see if anyone is out there? ...I just want Christmas... I don't want to die, I just want to have Christmas.' I said, you're going to have Christmas and Chanukah. I tried to be positive."
Now families will come home from the morgue to face their unimaginable losses surrounded by presents still unwrapped, joyful decorations now trimming houses robbed of all joy. Siblings and parents and grandparents and aunts and uncles and cousins and neighbors stricken with sadness.
I think of the survivors' families, too. Parents dealing with traumatized children and trying to comfort grieving neighbors, relatives, and friends.
Last but not least I mourn for the teachers and emergency workers who viewed the carnage and certainly will not forget it as long as they live.
No sooner did the news hit the wires than the political prattle about it began. Stop it.
For once, act like human beings. Can the gun talk; hold up on the sociological musings; button your lips on all the usual chatter when horrors occur. Maybe people spend too much time on TV programs where there's a wrap-up after half an hour and expect real life to follow that schedule.
For some things there are no easy explanations or solutions,
This it seems to me is one of those things.
For once, think of Newtown, the town where Christmas will never be the same. A place where school will never hold the same sense of security for the children or their families, Parents in Newtown will never drop their children off at the school doors again without telling them how much they love them.
It's not the first or the worst such disaster. I look back to the Bath, Michigan School bombing in 1927 where a mad school board treasurer killed 45 people (including himself) and wounded 58, mostly schoolchildren, when he blew up the school, his house, and farm buildings. For good measure he detonated his own car also packed with explosives so the rescuers were also killed.
Nor is it the only such disaster in the world. On the very same day that this occurred, the Chinese suffered another in a series of knife attacks by madmen at a school. This one resulted in the stabbing of 22 children and an elderly woman, The Mail recounts the Chinese school assaults:
“No motive was given for the stabbings, which echo a string of similar assaults against schoolchildren in 2010 that killed nearly 20 and wounded more than 50.
The most recent such attack took place in August, when a knife-wielding man broke into a middle school in the southern city of Nanchang and stabbed two students before fleeing.
Most of the attackers have been mentally ill men involved in personal disputes or unable to adjust to the rapid pace of social change in China, underscoring grave weaknesses in the antiquated Chinese medical system's ability to diagnose and treat psychiatric illness.
In one of the worst incidents, a man described as an unemployed, middle-aged doctor killed eight children with a knife in March 2010 to vent his anger over a thwarted romantic relationship.”
I watching the news on Saturday I saw a clip from ABC where Diane Sawyer was interviewing Kaitlin Roig, the teacher who barricaded her students in the bathroom. This woman was used by Sawyer, using her saccharine voice, to coax her into tears for the benefit ratings. Ms. Roig was in no emotional state to give such an interview at this time. This was not unique to Sawyer or ABC. It is prevalent on all news programs and channels.
There is a great deal of talk about evil, faith and God — most in a positive vain. But some question why God would allow this to happen. It was God who allowed his son to be sacrificed and murdered for our salvation. Look how much good came from this.
It is amazing that how many of those interviewed who were in the school at the time of the shooting turned to prayer and God. We don’t allow prayer in school or the public square, but when things go wrong people turn to the very thing that has been outlawed. We live in a society dominated by secular progressive thought — a society where the government does all it can to ban prayer. Prayer in school is banned. High school football teams are not allowed to hold hands in prayer before the game begins. Christmas pageants where a Christian theme is portrayed are forbidden and we wonder why there is a lack of moral behavior. Mike Huckabee had a very good commentary on this subject on Fox News the other night when he said; “for fifty years we have systematically tried to have God removed from our schools and public activities but the moment we have a calamity we wonder where he was.”
So spare us all for a decent interval the self-serving babblings of gun control, the amateur psychoanalysis, and the morbid and soul killing paparazzi shots of parents learning for the first time of the slaughter of their children.
Let's have a decent silence to contemplate the eternal nature of evil and the tragic loss we all feel.
Back away from the microphones.
Put down those cameras.
Let us just grieve.