The Day After They Were Taken from Us

IMG_0199“A police officer entered the room and put the parents’ worst fears into words: their children were gone. The wails that followed could be heard from outside.” From the New York Times 

It’s the day after, when you wake up and life reveals it wasn’t a dream — a nightmare. Life as you know it did end. What was lost is lost. What was taken away was taken away. And before you is the void you didn’t see coming — life as it now is.

There are many ways that life can end as we know it. A trusted friend betrays you. Your job gets taken away. A loved one dies. A madman looks in your five-year old’s eyes and takes her life away.

“Were they afraid, did they see something coming?” parents asked a pastor at the site.

Please, please tell me her last memory is of my love, not the gaze of the pitiless monster.

It was, it seemed, a safe place, Newtown, Connecticut. The kind of town where children were safe — safe from the pitiless monster. But it was not.

The heroes in this carnage are the teachers and staff who tried to save the children. The responders who told the children they were evacuating to hold hands and close their eyes so they wouldn’t witness the horror. The clergy who made themselves available to the parents whose children did not come home to them.

Michigan House Speaker Jase Bolger thinks we should arm teachers, that if they had guns, the innocent would have been spared.

I disagree. That is not in their job description, nor should it be.

There is no doubt that this resistance to killing one’s fellow man is there and that it exists as a result of a powerful combination of instinctive, rational, environmental, hereditary, cultural, and social factors. It is there, it is strong, and it gives us cause to believe that there may just be hope for mankind after all.”

Lt. Col. Dave Grossman, On Killing: The Psychological Costs of Learning to Kill in War and Society

In his book, Grossman says that one doesn’t learn to overcome the resistance to killing, one is conditioned to overcome it.

I’m not opposed to that conditioning. I just think that it needs to be reserved for soldiers and law enforcement — men and women who can call on their own pitiless monster when appropriate, but aren’t seduced by its power.

“Victims Identified as Connecticut Town Seeks Answers,” a headline reads.

There are no answers — or at least none that satisfy or soothe or make any sense or make the unacceptable acceptable.

But, nevertheless, we need to ask questions. The right questions. Questions that start with the knowledge that we all have a pitiless monster inside us.

We need to talk about guns and our rights regarding them. I do not think we have the right to hunt with assault weapons. I do not think we have a right to an arsenal of weapons — particularly automatic weapons — any more than we have the right to abuse our children because they are ours.

We need to keep guns — particularly automatic weapons — out of the hands of those who have been seduced by their pitiless monster. The only way we even have the chance to do that is by making them illegal for civilians to own.

I am an American. I am neither proud nor ashamed of that. It is simply a part of who I am — the country that is in my heart.

So I feel compelled to help shape its culture — to make it one whose heart beats to the rhythm of hope for mankind, rather than the paranoid fear of “them.”

I will hold the people of Newtown, Connecticut in my heart and hope that that small act will help heal the humanity that was lost when the 27 lives were taken by a man who was taken away by his pitiless monster.

Some wisdom about talking to parents who have lost children:

One thought on “The Day After They Were Taken from Us

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s