Heartbreak

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.

12 thoughts on “Heartbreak

  1. Several years ago I was elected to the Board of Education in our community and we have a VERY large school district. Our security protocols are very strict — and they need to be. I am a gun owner, but guns don’t have a place in school. However, you would be shocked at the type of people who show up at the front door of public schools and try to get in — it would freak you out!

    One time the Athletic Director asked me to attend a high school girl’s volleyball game just so I could see the crowds — a lot of creepy guys there (I’m not just talking about the high school boys). There were middle age (and older) men who didn’t have a daughter or relative on either team — they just wanted to “watch” the girls (yeah, high school girls in tight clothing jumping up and down — you get the idea). What I’m saying is that we live in a very sick society and more laws will not eliminate bad behavior.

    1. Thank you for your thoughts!

      You are right – we can’t legislate away everything negative. And we shouldn’t try to legislate everything to the umpteenth degree. What we do need is rational dialogue and subsequent policy that balances the rights of individuals with the rights of the community.

      For example, Colorado passed a law that required all children 8 years and younger to be in a booster seat. As a citizen, I found this to be an unnecessary law as it is difficult – if not impossible – to enforce. Parents are not required to carry around their children’s birth certificates so where does the burden of proof fall? Additionally, shouldn’t it be my right to determine if my children still need a booster seat in our vehicle?

      Our government leaders need to hear from all of their constituents to ensure we aren’t passing rash or extremist laws. While I am not pro-gun, I recognize guns are not going to go away. People who make very poor decisions are not going away. We need to find a way to ensure the safety of our children while respecting upstanding citizens’ rights.

  2. I think a lot of the knee jerk reaction I’ve seen from gun owners is indicative of a misunderstanding between the terms “Gun Control” and “Disarmament.” We need gun control, not a ban on guns. Guns are a part of American culture and while I do not own firearms, I know many that do and the use gun locks, gun safes, etc. This is able reducing opportunity for a sick, horrific act like this to take place at all. We aren’t going to control everything all the time. Bad people will still find ways to do bad things to innocent people. But let’s not leave the door wide open to the gun cabinet.

  3. Being a gun owner, we do freak out when the gun control crowd get rolling, mostly because it’s the extremists whose voices are heard loudest… And they will never stop, never give up until they win and guns (hand guns, semi-auto handguns, rifles, revolvers, take your pick) are banned completely. That’s the goal and they are more than happy with small victories. The problem I have is this: how does the government making it more difficult (or impossible) for me to purchase or carry a firearm make me safer? Too often this is looked at backwards – take this case, the mother allowed her nut of a son to access her firearms. In this case she paid for her stupidity with her life.

      1. Thank you for your thoughts!

        I whole-heartedly agree that we need to make sensible laws that do not unduly punish upstanding citizens who wish to own a gun or two. There are valid reasons to own a gun. Personally, I’m not aware of a reason for the average Joe to own an assault weapon.

        Not on the same scale, but let’s look at our access to decent decongestants. Methheads began buying large quantities of pseudoephadrine. It sounds good to say “hey, law abiding citizens shouldn’t balk at filling out paperwork and talking to the pharmacists to acquire a decongestant.” But the reality is, methheads are still buying large quantities, just not at the local pharmacy, and it’s horribly annoying to have to fill out paperwork every time you buy a decongestant.

      2. Exactly. I would agree to any “ban” that all police and government officials (including the Army) would have to live with as well – we get what they get, period. I’m looking at this from the liberty side of the coin and admittedly, the discussion can get a little “loopy”, but I believe the founders were onto something proper when the wrote the Amendments, even if they did have to leave some room to change a couple.

      3. We are definitely on opposite ends of the coin – I feel we have a militia in the form of a well-rounded military and guns should be in the hands of on-duty law enforcement and military only – but we share the view that we need to carefully evaluate proposed sweeping Constitutional changes. 🙂

        We are reluctant owners to one family heirloom firearm. It is stowed and the ammunition locked away in a separate part of the house. Portions of both of our families are gun owners – 100% rural-dwelling upstanding citizens. It’s just not our thing. 🙂

  4. A very thoughtful essay that seemed to strike a careful balance. This is a time for discussion and debate. How do we protect our children and from whom?

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