Saturday, December 15, 2012

How on Earth?

Or why? These are the questions we ask ourselves as we grieve for the victims - young children (deceased and alive) and the adults who cared for them and protected them at school - and the parents, brothers, sisters, friends, and the citizens of Newtown, Connecticut.

How will any parent send a child off to school on Monday without wondering if that child will return home at the end of the day?

Why does this keep happening? Did our Founding Fathers ever envision that a right to bear arms (for protection, not to make statements) would result in this?

Since yesterday, I've debated posting my feelings. This is a beauty blog, and there was little beauty in Newtown yesterday. Kindness and prayers, yes, Otherwise, just photos of terror on the faces of parents, family, friends, and fellow citizens. Just descriptions of the massacre in "small town America," running with justifiable sadness on every news station in the country. Just masses of law enforcement officers who descended on the school minutes after the shooting began, but too late to save 20 small children and their teachers from a young man who was sent by the devil to punish the innocent.

All the feelings and sadness that I felt after the Virginia Tech shooting (and Gabby  Griffin, and Columbine, and more) have flooded back to me, and I sit and cry, knowing that this will happen again. We've done essentially nothing as a society to confront the root causes of this senseless violence. Yeah, we've started locking school doors and putting police offers in high schools. It's not enough.

President Obama, first responders, and priests who were there to comfort the victims cried for all of us as they tearfully expressed the grief of a nation - a week before Christmas, a holiday that will never be the same for so many.

My deepest sympathy - first and foremost - to the parents of the 20 children who were murdered and to the families of the principle, teachers, and other school employees who died trying to save them.

Photos courtesy of andersoncooper.com and cnn.com

34 comments:

Nemo said...

I agree, couldn't agree more. But it all comes down to politics. Our nation's leaders allow the NRA to rule our country. They are afraid to confront them. Politics is ruining our environment, the poor and helpless among us, and our very lives and well being and that of our most beloved, our children. I do not forsee any positive changes. Courage is a forgotten commodity. It exists only in books and movies. Without a doubt, there should be metal detectors and police guards in every school--now even elementary schools, as we learned to our chagrin yesterday. But the saddest thing, and the most frustrating, is that nobody listens to us, the people. My state just sent legislation to the governor to permit open carry of guns into schools. I see no hope.

Anonymous said...

If the NRA ruled this country, Obama would not be President.

faithful reader said...

Thank you for taking a stand and making your comments on your blog. I cannot understand how the NRA has so much power, but sadly, I agree with the other comment here that it does. This was a horrific, senseless tragedy. My heart is aching, and I appreciate your putting your own thoughts and feelings into words.

Charleston Girl said...

Hi Nemo,

Agreed. We need to add metal detectors, but as we have learned, someone intent on mass murder will simply shoot the attendant. Happened in DC. Can happen anywhere. Tears.

Charleston Girl said...

Well, Anonymous, you did give a chuckle. You know, I'm sure, that President Obama has mostly stayed away from the gun control issue.

The NRA, like all advocacy groups, does put fear in the eyes of politicians who would like to take a stand against assault weapons. I'd like them to convince me and just enough politicians why we need them.

My father was a gun collector. A nice, extraordinary man who would never have thought of using a weapon to kill any living being who didn't endanger us or who wanted to roam our wooded lot at night. He kept a loaded handgun next to his bed, and I have many memories of Daddy going out to investigate a noise he heard (or dreamed) at night. Of course, it was always nothing - or an animal noise, but Daddy was not going to let anyone harm us. Should there have been someone trying to break in, it would have been a dead someone. Then, house alarms came along, and he learned to relax. We, BTW, had the hell scared out of us that we were NEVER to open that drawer in his bedside cabinet. He also cleaned his rifles often - a hobby. He never used them. Go figure.

The NRA protected his right to own those guns. Somewhere with time, I think the NRA lost their way, refusing to acknowledge that there are people who shouldn't own or have access to guns. The part that drives me nuts is that one can purchase a weapon at a gun show without a background check. You can be as crazy as a loon and walk in and buy. You can be an illegal dealer and walk into a show in Virginia and leave with 10 assault weapons.

However, while guns are part of the equation, another part is (IMHO) our refusal to profile (yes, I said profile) troubled, seriously introverted young men and get them help - free of charge. I don't know how to do it, exactly, but as a psychologist, I think the portrait is starting to emerge.

Charleston Girl said...

Thanks, Faithful Reader,

We have such collective sadness today, I had to.

lovethescents said...

First of all, Charlestongirl, thank you for your comments and thoughts and for bringing up this issue on your blog. Whether it's about beauty or not, it's your blog and you can write what you want!

I cannot begin to ever imagine, nor would i want to, what those poor parents and families of the murdered are experiencing. My heart bleeds for them.

I am not an American, I have never lived in the US. I hope I don't offend anyone here, but I believe there is something so culturally wrong in the US....it's a gun-loving culture that breeds so much violence, then manifests that violence in schools, theatres, etc. I don't know or understand what the problem is. Such a rich, "free", powerful country....it's a travesty. I don't know what the answer is. I'm devastated.

Charlotte said...

Something like this could happen without guns. On the same day, a man in china slaughtered 22 children in an elementary school without the use of even one gun. I could point fingers at another reason why this could have happened, but I am not going to. Instead, I'll leave with this question. Switzerland makes every adult carry an assault riffle for protection, and they have the lowest gun related crime rate in the world. How can that be?

Also, does anyone ever wonder why schools are usually the places for these massive shootings? Because the crazed people know no one will be armed. It's an easy target because they know no one will be able to defend themselves!

P.S. This is my first time commenting for a while, because last time I got accused of posting multiple comments under anonymous, just because god forbid, there was more than one conservative commenter on here...

Charleston Girl said...

It's a good point, Charlotte. I don't think, though, that this a conservative vs. liberal issue. Why? Because both sides of the aisle have children. We all grieve. No one of us knows how to resolve this pattern of seemingly random, definitely ruthless murder/violence.

Charleston Girl said...

Hi Lovethescents,

We do have more than our share of non-terrorist, violent, troubled young people who know what they are doing is heinous, but do it anyhow - then kill themselves so that we cannot lock them up for life. "They" cannot convince me that these planned actions are impulsive strikes by the insane.

Our young people - in the U.S. and Canada - see the same violent movies. Despite the concern that young people become immune to violence, why do ours pick up those guns and act? I wish I knew.

Kate MacDonald said...

I feel the need to jump in here to correct Charlotte's comment:

"On the same day, a man in china slaughtered 22 children in an elementary school without the use of even one gun."

Actually, he attacked and injured 22 children with a knife. There were NO fatalities and, in fact, no life-threatening injuries.

I don't have a problem with gun ownership, but when it comes to the mass availability of assault weapons coupled with difficult access to mental health care, I do think that there are inevitable, tragic consequences.

I'm not an American, but I have to think that there must be a way to better control the possession of firearms without impinging on the average person's right to have guns in their home. Doesn't the 2nd amendment start with the words "A well-regulated militia"? Kind of seems like the people who wrote it intended for there to be some kind of regulation.

Eileen said...

Banning guns and putting metal detectors at entrances of schools is a knee-jerk but ineffectual answer to the problem of violence on campus. We need to accept that we are a violent society where angry, out of control people who view violence as a solution will always find a way to perpetuate it on the innocent. Rather than blaming an object (guns) or a procedure (metal detectors) for the mayhem, we need to look deep within ourselves and examine our fundamental beliefs and practices as they relate to aggression. Until we make some fundamental changes as a society, innocent people will continue to die.

We need to stop scapegoating and accept the responsibility for this tragic problem. Throughout the world, the US is viewed as a violent country. A man out for a good time at a baseball game meets with incomprehensible violence at the hands of those who think it's OK to bully and beat people into submission. Women having their hair done at their favorite salon are brutally murdered by a nutcase who wants revenge on his ex. Kids are bullied at school and on Facebook to the point of suicide. Every day, countless people are battered, maimed or killed by "loving" family members. The list of terrors is unspeakably long. Some of those acts involve guns; but many do not. What they all do involve, though, is a person who believes that violence is an acceptable solution to their problem.

Some would say that banning guns is at least a start, but we all know the expression, "Where there is a will, there is a way." Take away one weapon and a hostile, aggressive person will simply find another. Years ago I rode in the ambulance with a student who had been jumped and repeatedly stabbed by another student with a---pencil! We are our own worst enemy and, until we get to the root of our problem, we will not solve it.

The opinions I've expressed are not intended to offend anyone or in any way depreciate the tragedy which has occurred. As individuals and as a nation we are in shock and in morning over the death of our innocent children.

Anonymous said...

A man in a nearby community recently slit the throats of his two children and went and strangled his wife 56 minutes after being released from a mental health ward, where he voiced homicidal intentions. Alot of the places to treat people with these issues do not keep them and you have to jump through hoops to get care for patient with problems.

Dovey said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Evelyn said...

I respectfully disagree with Lovethescents, I don't find the US as having a particularly gun-loving culture, just that in some places it's more common for people to have guns (not NYC, although all our criminals certainly have an arsenal at their disposal). Also, just because we do not hear about gun violence in other places does not mean that it doesn't happen, but there is a greater spotlight on the US.

In a sense this scrutiny gives the opportunity for the globe to open discussion and address the issues that contribute to the disrespect, violence, disregard for life, intolerance, etc. that plague humanity in general. While people may tend to be more aggressive, it is a big step to go from that to becoming a serial killer or to commit a massacre. This suggests that we need improvement in mental health assessment and treatment as well as increasing access to and acceptance of treatment.

All I can say is that we should start acting as ethical, caring role models for each other and our children. Yes, you should be screened to own a gun, prove to me that you're responsible and sane. Play less computer games thereby getting less desensitized to violence (and get healthier by playing & being active outside!). It takes a concerted effort by all of us to really change the track we're on. Now I'm going to throw out the soapbox and do laundry.

mamavalveeta03 said...

First, thank you for posting your thoughts. It's obvious that we all have a lot on our minds and a lot to say about the issue, regardless of differing opinions. I also want to say that my good friend,Kris, a teacher in a nearby school in CT told me today that her classroom aide lost her beloved 6 yr. old granddaughter in the shooting in Newtown. So, prayers please for her family...

Jo said...

Let me say just a couple of words, please, as a politically conservative Christian and a southerner, born and reared. We keep guns for protection and we are constitutionally allowed that right. There are no assault weapons in this home but if an intruder chooses to enter this home in spite of a very vocal dog, that intruder will be shot.

Guns are weapons; people are killers. Why do we not treat and/or institutionalize our mentally ill? Because I have an aunt (current age 78) who is paranoid schizophrenic, for as long as I can remember, I feel somewhat qualified to speak on this issue. It takes a court order to force medication for someone in this condition and that's after you go thru the sheriiff's office to have the "patient" picked up. And then the goal becomes calm them down, hold for 48 hrs or so and release back into the world.

I can remember a time when the seriously mentally ill were kept in hospital but in the 80s or 90s, something changed and now we have our most confused and potentially dangerous walking the streets while their voices speak to them.

Pray for the victims and their families and pray that God will shower our nation with his most excellent Grace and Mercy.

Kit said...

I am so horrified by what happened in Newtown and I ache soul-deep for the dead and those left behind. At the same time, I'm scared by what I see emerging in the wake of this incident. The gun control question is one issue, but I have to admit that I'm also disturbed by some of the discussions about the shooter.

I should note that I have nothing but revulsion for someone who would commit an atrocity like this, but it scares me to hear the media harping on how the shooter was "quiet", "different", maybe even suffering from an autism spectrum disorder. While I agree with Charleston Girl that professionals should be alert for people who fit the relatively specific profile of a possible school shooter, I worry that people with no background in psychology will start to get suspicious of any young people who seem to keep to themselves or who seem to be different. Most of them would never hurt anyone.

Perhaps this is all simply alarmism, but it's so hard to find a balance between taking good precautions and unwarranted targeting of people, especially with the media boiling complex issues down into simplistic summaries. Anyway, please forgive the ramble.

Charleston Girl said...

I just lost it, after watching a man named Robbie Parker describe his beautiful, now deceased daughter and her extraordinary spirit.

I just cannot imagine the pain. I saw him in yesterday's photos. Now I saw him speak. I don't think I could have been as strong.

Charleston Girl said...

MamaVal,

We will pray for the family - and all the families. It's about all we can do.

christine valle said...

This isn't about guns. It's about preventive action for the mentally ill. The shooter had a confrontation at theschoolthedaybefore. He should have been held for observation but laws protect the insane's right

Charleston Girl said...

Christine,

Can you cite a source for that info? It has not been reported on NBC or the NY Times. I know many of us would be interested. Thanks.

Charleston Girl said...

Thoughtful piece here: http://ideas.time.com/2012/12/15/sandy-hook-shooting-why-did-lanza-target-a-school/

Charleston Girl said...

Never mind, Christine, I found it, although have to say it's not being reported yet by the mainstream media as fact. Time will tell, I'm sure.

http://www.slate.com/blogs/the_slatest/2012/12/15/nancy_lanza_school_teacher_sandy_hook_elementary_shooting.html

Charleston Girl said...

'd like to thank all of you for expressing your opinions, which run the gamut, and doing so with courtesy. I was ready to hit the delete button, but never had to consider it. Thank you.

I think what unites us is our grief, sympathy, empathy, and overwhelming sense of helplessness. I don't know about you, but I had to go out today just to get away from the television - hypnotic, but leaving me severely depressed.

I think we can all agree: this tragedy resulted from many factors, all of which have been acknowledged across the board here and will be discussed for months. Supremely lethal weapons (I even cried for the man who had to perform the autopsies of six-year-old children who were riddled with 11 bullets) to mental illness, and our inability to prevent the confluence of both that resulted in this tragedy.

Now that we know more, I still don't understand why a single woman needed at least four guns to protect herself. How could she fire them all at once should someone break in? What was she thinking? She was murdered by her son, so we will never know more than her sister offered, "They were for protection." I can understand a handgun, but an assault rifle? Was she perhaps protecting herself from her son? Only God knows. It should have been clear that I am not anti-gun. Jo, all I can say to you is that the potential intruder you described ought to be shot. Better him than you. That was my father's attitude, and I agree. I don't have a weapon here. I do have a home alarm system and a police station about a mile up the road - maybe less. I feel pretty safe, but wouldn't hesitate to call the police if I were to hear something "odd" outside.

While I understand we have a constitutional right to bear arms, I am against our laws that allow people to amass arsenals of assault weapons. Perhaps living near DC and seeing the daily murders of teenagers by teenagers, over things as stupid as jackets and sneakers, has left me more sensitized to the gun issue.

I heard one man comment on the radio today that video games, rife with violence, make teenagers immune to violence. Perhaps. If I were sure, I'd write that book.

It's good that we're talking about it as a society. What we do next could serve as a memorial to the children; the teachers and staff who died as heroes, trying to protect them; and the parents/families, who are just beginning to understand the fact that their child is not coming home. I'm sure you know that empty feeling that someone, a loved one, must be just around the corner.

What will send me over the edge, though, are statements that something must be done to ensure they did not die in vein. They did die in vein! There's no escaping that fact.

Anonymous said...

Let's all take some deep breaths, pray or meditate or just concentrate on the souls who were lost. People who were taken from this Earth too soon through no fault of their own. Who can possibly explain it? We ache for answers but none will arrive. Breath deeply and pray, I hope their spirits are at peace and that they will all see their loved ones again some day.

solanace said...

Thank's for sharing your thoughts, CG. This is all so sad.

I'm not an American, but as an outsider I believe there is a winner-loser scheme permeating American society which is a rather effective way of producing nutjobs (and that in both ends of the scale, both among the 'weirdos' and among the 'winners'). I can't start to figure out why this happens, since the individual Americans I know tend to be extremely cooperative, caring people. Maybe my sample is just biased, but I think there is something more complicated at stake. Anyway, I simply can't believe a boy grows up to be a violent adult because of movies or videogames, no matter how hideous we may think they are. I'm not going to become as crazy as Raskolnikov just because I read Crime and Punishment, now will I? As a lover of American culture, and of American pop culture in particular, I feel the urge of expressing my opinion that what makes these kids become murderers is their sheer unhappiness, not the cultural products they have access too. There is an urge for some active and effective, coordinated action promoting the love and the interest, not just the respect, for differences in school - and not only in America, but everywhere.

Of course, I also think the availability of weapons and NRA, along with the whole weapon industry are a cancer, but then I'm a liberal, and a pacifist, and a dreamer, so let's not even start to go there...

bisbee said...

There is a difference between having guns for protection or hunting, and having assault weapons that can shoot hundreds of rounds in seconds. Those are the guns that individuals should not be allowed to have. I will never be persuaded away from that opinion. I pray that our President will begin that dialog, especially now that he no longer has to run for re-election.

Something needs to be done. Mentally ill people can't be monitored constantly, or locked up. Someone wielding a knife can be stopped...someone who is using an assault rifle spraying bullets creates mayhem and destruction. We have seen this too often. It is time.

Charleston Girl said...

Anonymous,

I believe that a heaven exists, and I expect to see both my human and animal loved ones. I'm sorry all those grieving parents must wait so long.

I wonder if it's any comfort that a whole nation grieves with them.

Charleston Girl said...

Solanace,

They say these young men are severely unhappy and that these mass murders are some kind of revenge killings. If only they could express their rage...

Charleston Girl said...

Bisbee,

I have read in the NY Times that three women, including the principle, ran toward the shooter, attempting to tackle him. I believe the only surviver - the one in the hospital - may have a lot to tell. One thing is certain. You're right. No one can stop a guy with an assault rifle. Those were brave women.

Anonymous said...

Everybody has expressed their views very respectfully and politely, so I will try to do the same, even if a tragedy like that makes me really angry. What a lot of people forget though, is that killing with a gun is much faster than any other method, and that is why so many people were killed before the police had time to arrive. Without guns, there would be less victims, this is just simple logic. And also guns allows the killer to be more detached from what he's doing, he can kill from a distance and not feel the victim struggling.
Why allow guns when so many children are murdered? Where I live, it's not allowed to have guns, and there is no mass murder of children.

TargetMarketGroup said...

Guns don't kill people and all that, but this will continue to happen for as long as we have the volatile combination of lax gun control laws and inadequate mental health services in this country.

Anonymous said...

Kudos to you for putting this piece up. Its only when people from all walks of life start questioning gun control in all forums, can something good come of it.

Where I live, guns are not allowed. I read about all these mass shootings and all i feel is pain and anger.
A lot of the people in my country would do anything to live in the United States.... all i can say is I am glad I live where I do.