First, a story:
I am not a fan of the 24-hour news machine. The endless loop of Not A Lot Of Information is constantly replayed, creating an environment of chaos, fear, instability and uncertainty.
One afternoon in February 2010, I received a text from my elementary-aged children saying they got home safe. It’s unusual for them to text me that they got home, much less got home safe. So I texted back “Ok ….??” … to which my son texted me “turn on the news.”
What greeted me on the screen was the local affiliate station covering the shooting at Deer Creek Middle School. The school was about three or four blocks from our house; the kids’ elementary school was across the street. My kids are walkers. I called the house to make sure the kids were really OK – they were – and to keep the house locked until I could get home. My heart began racing and I excused myself from work to be home with my children and help them process the day’s events. Fortunately none of them had been outside or near the exact location of the shooting and law enforcement swiftly apprehended the perpetrator.
Roughly a year later, my children’s elementary school was evacuated due to a suspicious person. This time I was notified by the school district’s text messaging/phone call service and had to provide positive ID to pick up my younger two children (the older one now being a student at Deer Creek Middle School). Fortunately no one was hurt and nothing was amiss – but the simple message that there might be an issue can cause your heart to skip a beat.
Our story is thankfully one with a soothing resolution – my children are safe. This is the world in which we live in. Our community was small and in many ways, a place where Things Like This Don’t Happen Here. Except they can happen anywhere – we lived a couple of miles from Columbine High School and rode our bikes to Clement Park regularly. I remind myself frequently that these types of events are not common and we can’t let our lives be ruled by fear of things going horribly awry.
In light of recent events, it doesn’t escape my consciousness that THIS SHOULD NOT BE PART OF OUR CHILDREN’S LIVES.
In Connecticut, there are families who were notified of a horrific event – parents raced to the school, praying their child would be there safe – and there was no comfort to be found. There are families who have lost their mothers and sisters and brothers and cousins and best friends. December will never again be the same. My heart is broken for these families – twenty-six lives extinguished.
I spent three years studying Kabbalah under Dr. David Sanders at Kabbalah Experience and one of the concepts that we meditated upon frequently is There Is No Place Without You. That even in the most horrific things there is a shard of the Divine. Another thought: we all think we are the star of our own life’s movie – but we may really be up for Best Supporting Role in someone else’s life movie. This is of very little comfort when one is dealing with a soul-crushing loss.
I choose to reflect on the twenty-six beautiful lives lost and find a way to honor them that is meaningful. How can we take this devastation and create a positive change?
Friends, the time is NOW to have a thoughtful, sensible discussion about how we as a country handle guns. Specifically guns designed to kill as many as possible in a short amount of time. We need to talk about what purpose they serve the greater community and how heavily they should be restricted – up to being illegal. We have a window of opportunity to make a difference in the kind of world our children live in. We need to take the momentum and craft appropriate legislation to reduce the number of assault weapons in the hands of citizenry. We should NOT give in to rash and extremist views. Banning all guns will not solve the problem.
We also need to have a serious discussion about how we handle mental health issues in this country. There are millions of people who suffer from a myriad of issues that need assistance – with the most serious of illnesses needing the most care. We need to stop thinking of mental illness as something that should be hidden. We need to stop being embarrassed of needing help sorting through the mental static. We need to support families that are strained under the weight of mental illness. We need to take action to ensure everyone has access to quality health care, including mental health, to ensure our community’s best possible future.
Friends, I urge you to write to your government officials – senators, representatives, governors – and express your views. While all this may not stop all bad things from happening, it is a step in the right direction to ensuring our future is the best it can be.
May the Source of peace send peace to all who mourn and comfort to all who are bereaved.