Like many people, I’m struggling to come to terms with the Sandy Hook massacre. As the mother of a first grade daughter, there hasn’t been a minute since it happened that I haven’t looked at her and thought, “What if?” Like my daughter and her friends, the first grade victims of Sandy Hook were artists, writers, readers, explorers, justice-seekers and dreamers. And, in a matter of minutes, they were gone.
Since the tragedy, I’ve seen so many articles and posts on social media blaming one thing or another: “It’s not guns, it’s people.” “It’s a mental health issue, not a gun issue.” “The media sensationalizes killers.” “Video games desensitize kids to violence.” “We’ve lost our family values.” Always, though, the posts blame one thing. Why can’t we just admit that it’s all of these things?
Can’t you be a Conservative and believe we have too many guns? Can’t you be a Liberal and believe that video games are too violent? Can’t you believe in limited government, but still put a value on mental health services? Can’t you believe in gay marriage, but also support family values? We are a nation of extraordinarily unique individuals and yet most of us put ourselves in just two boxes. Why are we so afraid of finding the places where those boxes overlap? Why are we so afraid to admit that fault lies with all of it and we have a lot of work to do to fix what’s wrong?
We have too many guns and they’re too easy to get. We arm ourselves to defend against all the guns. When does it stop? We need to remove the stigma of mental illness and offer free help. We need to not only say something when we see something, but do something. We need to remember the importance of family, no matter what that family looks like. And we, as parents, need to ask for help when our children are veering off course. We need to stop buying games and movies for our kids that make violence look easy and numb them to its consequences. We need to stop our kids from bullying other kids and inspiring the next generation of killers. And we need to stop the body counts. Stop ranking the killing sprees, as if we could ever compare them. Stop flashing the names and faces of killers and let us see only the brave, brave victims.
Can’t we all just admit that it’s everything and do all we have the power to do to fix it?