Hi everyone, I am in Paris as I write this, and news and details are sparse here about the shooting in Connecticut, but we have heard of it, and everyone is saddened by it. So shocking, so sad. So unthinkable, to open fire on people, and especially children. And even more agonizing to think that the parents of those children must have been preparing for the holidays, picking gifts, planning family events, maybe talking about Santa Claus……and now they will be mourning their lost children and loved ones. A sudden, instant, turnaround of everything they hoped, believed and planned. And how will the other children ever feel safe in school again??
And sadly, this is not something we’ve never heard of, it’s not an event we are unfamiliar with. It brings instantly to mind the university shooting in Tennessee not so long ago, the terrible shooting at the Amish one room school house, and others all the way back to Columbine in Colorado. It is truly a national tragedy for us that such deeply troubled people go unnoticed, untreated and unstopped until they have taken all these young lives, and altered the course forever of the lives of those who survived it. Incredible trauma. And I dread thinking that we will hear of other events like this again one day. There have always been these terrible school and random shootings all the way back to my own youth. What rage and deep illness leads the perpetrators of these crimes to want to hurt so many, and carry out our worst nightmares on so many innocents.
My heart aches for the parents, the families, all of the victims, all of those who lost loved ones or friends. There are no words to make this better, and worse, there seems to be no way to stop it happening again. My heart and prayers go out to all of the people in Connecticut, affected by this event, and to all of us who go about our lives, thinking we are safe, leading our lives, carrying out our plans, and then a nightmare like this happens and changes each of us forever. We all talk about and worry about terrorism in the world, politicians argue about gun control…..but an event like this isn’t even about issues, it is just about immense sadness, and all those precious lives that were lost. You are all deep in my heart with profound sympathy and much love, Danielle
Back in the States, in New York, two days after I wrote my initial thoughts about the tragic school shooting at Sandy Hook, I’ve now watched some of the coverage on CNN, and heard the President speak at the Memorial in Newtown on Sunday night. I am bowled over by the magnitude of the tragedy, those shining young 6 and 7 year old faces that I hadn’t seen before while I was still in Paris. It is such an unthinkable, unfathomable event, the idea that a disturbed 20 year old person can enter a school, wielding an assault rifle, which he obtained in his own home——-and gunned down 20 children and 6 adults before taking his own life (and began by killing his mother before the rampage at the school). As I said in what I wrote from Paris, this is not the first time we have watched with horror events like this, at schools and universities. Something is desperately awry in our society and our world for something like this to happen, not once but several times. No society is entirely exempt from madness of this kind, but we seem to be more vulnerable to it than most nations. I know from my own work with our foundation which deals with mental illness that we do not do enough in this country for our mentally ill. Very sick young people slip through the cracks in our society far too often, sometimes they take their own lives, but in some instances like this one, they take other lives as well. And gun control is a sensitive issue in this country, and people clamor over their second amendment rights to bear arms—but there is no question, weapons are far easier to obtain in the US than in most other civilized countries, often with tragic results. President Obama answered the question eloquently as to whether we are doing enough to protect our children in this country, and his answer was No. I can only hope that the tragedy at the Sandy Hook school will lead to new and different measures to stop events such as this from happening again, although the staff at Sandy Hook was well prepared, and had had drills for situations like this one. The very fact that our schools need ‘drills’ to prepare for the possibility of a gunman attacking a school is a tragedy in itself.
Beyond the issues, the laws, the constitution, the possible solutions is the simple fact of 27 people dead, 20 of them children, 6 of them teachers who died trying to protect them. Grieving parents and grandparents and friends, the unthinkable loss of children so young. Those adorable smiling faces in the photographs being shown on TV. The unbearable ache in their parents’ hearts, the agony of an entire community mourning them. Having lost a son who was 19 years old, I know the terrible loss of losing a child only too well, the long, long string of days and months and even years when you simply have to get through each day as best you can, with a terrible ache in your soul. And to have young children die by violence, and even the young teachers and principal, must be a special kind of agony that none of us who haven’t lived through it can barely imagine. For this moment in time, like all of you, I can only offer my deepest sympathy and prayers, and tears, along with the entire nation. And the family of the perpetrator must be equally in shock, and dealing with their loss as well. No one can imagine an event like this, and the devastation it wreaks on all involved, and even those of us who are unrelated and only see it on the news. There are no words to express how sad we all are, how broken the grief stricken parents must feel right now. I send my love and prayers and sorrow as a mother, and my deepest condolences to all.