I woke up this past Saturday morning to the news of the Newtown, Connecticut Sandy Hook Elementary School massacre.  I have spent most of my adult life within a 2 hour drive of Newtown, CT.  It is exactly the kind of suburb we would have chosen to live in had Ravi ended up working in New York City.  It’s the kind of town that friends of mine have taught in.  As I read the names and ages of the victims, I could all too easily imagine the faces of Elanor and her friends in their place.

The only word that came to mind as I read is shattered.

There are far more eloquent discussions happening online about gun control and about mental health.

What I have done is stood in front of a classroom full of children I call “mine.”

What I have done is drop my child off at a school I consider safe.

What I can’t imagine is what it must feel like to be a parent or a sibling or a teacher of a child who is no longer here.

I was curating the rotation curation twitter account @hellofrmSG that day.  I couldn’t not talk about it.  I couldn’t explain my home nation and our relationship with the “right to bear arms” or how the right to bear a musket evolved into the right to own a high powered automatic rifle.  I didn’t know how to explain the power of the NRA.  I railed against those who claim Sandy Hook wouldn’t have happened if teachers had guns in their rooms.

Most of all, though, I really can’t express my cynicism and despair that in several weeks the US and our goldfish attention spans (3 seconds) will have moved on and nothing will have changed.

I am ashamed of my country-that we can’t get it together and deal with this like adults.  This being gun control, mental health supports, actual safety versus security theater, lobbying and the elected officials it buys organizations like the gun lobby, bullying, and who know how many other issues that fed into the moment that made a murderer and ended the lives of 20 six and seven year olds and 6 teachers.

However, that shame and cynicism are tempered by my profound gratitude that people like Victoria Soto, 27, exist.  Ms Soto hid her students in the classroom closet and then sat at her desk.  When the murderer came in, she calmly lied and said they were in the office.  He murdered her before committing suicide.  All of her students survived because of her courage.


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5 Responses to Shattered

  1. I was blown away and extremely touched by the courage of Victoria as well. The whole incident just makes you ache.

  2. Dawn says:

    Just remember that on the day the Sandy Hook massacre happened, 99.99% of schools kept all their students completely safe. This kind of thing is shocking, but it’s extremely rare. If you’re going to feel like this “could have been you,” you’d better consider all the things much more likely to happen to you – a car accident, being struck by lightning…

    Personally, I was not bothered by Sandy Hook. It’s happened before. It was called Columbine. Occasionally people decide to hurt other people, and sometimes they succeed. It’s part of life. We can only hope that we will be lucky and never end up in a situation like that, which is really totally unavoidable. If he hadn’t had guns, he would have planted bombs. There’s no evidence that if more mental health care were available, he would have taken advantage of and/or been helped by it. If people want to hurt others, they will find a way to do so. The only thing we can do to try to curb it is to make sure that as many children as possible are loved, included, and learn to care about other people in a way that hurting them is just not desirable in any way (e.g. anti-bullying education is a start). In the meantime, if we are afraid, we only let them win – that’s what they want, to make an impact, to hurt us, to shatter us…we can’t let them do that. Go on living as usual and realize that you are just about as safe today as you were two weeks ago.

  3. Kirsten says:

    I’m late to this post but right now I am in Dunblane, a small Scottish town that experienced a school shooting about 17, 18 years ago. After the Newtown shootings there were journalists who came here to interview people about their thoughts, digging up memories. In a way you can see why journalists would find it of news value to do that, but at the same time you realise that this is not something that communities can really get over, in the sense that they’re almost not allowed to. Every time there is a shooting, Columbine is going to be dug up again, Dunblane is going to be dug up again, and now Newtown is going to be dug up again. It’s additional pain beyond the actual horrific incident that is going to keep coming back in small ways, and that’s part of the tragedy that we don’t often remember.

    • Yes. I’m sure it’s part of the human urge to hear from those who have been there that it will be okay, and no one wants to hear that it’s not ever okay again…it’s never the same as it was.

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