The tragedy in Newtown has hit me hard. I don't know how to explain it. Some have suggested its because I'm a parent now, but I don't agree with that. To quote Savannah Guthrie of the Today Show, "If you are lucky enough to love a child, you cannot shield your heart from how much this hurts."
Maybe it's because the victims were so young. Babies. Ages 6 and 7.
Maybe it's because my mom is a school teacher, and I increasingly fear for her safety.
Maybe it's because this same story repeats itself far too often.
Since the shooting, there has been so much talk about gun control. Mental illness. Safety in schools. I do believe that there are improvements we can make to keep our children safe. What I don't believe is that "solving" one, single issue will stop this from happening. It's far more complex than that.
We, as a society, must change.
We don't need to take away every single gun. We do need to make them more difficult to access. We need to keep them away from our children and away from individuals who want to use them for harm. Is it necessary to have an arsenal full of semiautomatic rifles in your home? No.
We do need to support the mentally ill, to let them know that they are not alone and they are not "crazy." We don't need to drastically take away their rights. Not every mentally ill person kills. Not every mentally ill person deserves to be locked away - ostracized further from society.
We do need better safety in schools and more support for our teachers. We do not need to arm them. They have difficult jobs as is. Let's find better ways of supporting them. Let's not wait until they have to take bullets for our children to hug them and tell them we appreciate them.
We need to teach our children that violence is not okay. We need to teach them to treat one another the way that they would want to be treated. We need to stop the bullying and the hatred. We need to teach peace and kindness toward all. "God" in schools isn't going to solve anything. Tolerance of ALL might - regardless of their religions. (If you haven't watched the Muslim prayer from last night's interfaith vigil, please do. Enlighten yourself and be sure you have tissues handy.)
We need to stop accepting this as normal. Because it's not. We need to start taking action. And it can't just be in our schools, or with our mentally ill, or with guns. It has to be everywhere, and it has to be everyone.
These babies. We can't let them die in vain. They had so much life to live. They will never know what it's like to get their first kiss. To get their acceptance letter to college. To walk across the stage at their high school graduation and toss their cap in the air. To go drinking all night on their 21st birthday. To buy their first car. To get their first job. To travel the world. To fall in love. To fall out of love. To get married to their soulmate. To have children or grandchildren. They will never get to make decisions about their future. Someone made that decision for them. But they can still make an impact through OUR actions.
For "there is no foot too small that it cannot leave an imprint on this world."