Nearly a week out from the tragedy in Newtown, CT, the event continues to affect many of us with the impact of a personal, family loss. Perhaps particularly for parents and grandparents, the “facts” of that day will remain haunting long after the cameras and talking heads move on to other “stories.”
Our deepest, most sincere sympathies go out to all those who lost loved ones – and to the entire Newtown community. We can only hope that there is some small comfort for them in knowing that millions of people around the country and the world are profoundly saddened by their losses.
It is disturbing that it took something this horrible to spur our country into actions so obviously essential for maintaining a reasonably safe, civilized society. But it does look like we are on our way to common-sense gun laws and perhaps even to improvements in the area of mental health.
There’s been a lot of discussion about exactly why this tragedy was the one to break through the noise in Washington. But it’s probably also worth reflecting on our own reactions. In this so-called information age, our own sanity may depend on the ability to tune out a lot of the horror we see on our many screens. Perfectly nice, caring people will often say, “Oh, I just couldn’t watch” or “I hate to admit it, but I really don’t want to know.” Yet, when we don’t look, we can’t get angry enough to speak up and demand that some necessary action be taken. Perhaps worse, we fall into the habit of distracting ourselves, rather than risking something very scary: sitting with our feelings.
Caring is a tricky balancing act these days. We can’t possibly take it all in. We can’t react either emotionally or politically to every event or cause any more than we can live totally green, sustainable lifestyles. But to paraphrase Gandalf in The Hobbit*, what makes the world a better (less evil) place is the little everyday actions of ordinary folks. Maybe one of those everyday actions is slowing down and giving ourselves a moment of silence, at least once in a while, to simply let in what we feel.
*The Hobbit, J.R.R. Tolkien.