Sandy Hook Deserves Our Honesty

It is difficult to put words to the tragic shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary. As a father, I cannot imagine what these parents and families are going through. There is a thought that breaks my heart: No doubt, there are homes with presents under a tree that will never be opened. Our thoughts and our prayers rightly go out to all those affected.

I am saddened by what happened. But today I am mourning the loss of empathy in our society. I, like many, followed the events of yesterday on social media. Hours was all it took for people to climb on top of their soap boxes and feel the need to connect this tragedy to a heart felt cause. I’m not saying those issues aren’t important, I am lamenting our ability as a society to “mourn with those who mourn.”

I think our inability to enter empathetically into the suffering of another comes, not from our preoccupation with our particular causes, but from our emotional immaturity. It might be right to label it as our emotional ignorance. I wonder, in the face of so many posts about gun control, mental health, violent video games, and the media if we really know how we felt yesterday.

Did the person who posted about guns not being the real issue understand their post as an anxious response to indescribable evil?

Did the mental health advocate see their response as an effort to negate the choice of another by labeling it as a disease?

Did the media hater recognize their desire for a scapegoat?

My Facebook and Twitter feed filled with people blaming this or blaming that or making the case as to why we shouldn’t blame that, but very few (if any) stated the most common emotion we all felt: fear. Deep down I believe all of us felt fear.

Because that could have been our children.

It could have been our son.

It could have been our neighbor.

It could have been our town.

It could have been me.

I wonder how we might respond if we moved towards our fear rather than shroud it in a brazen opinion about what may or may not be the reason for evil. Evil exists. And people make evil choices. We can try and figure out what makes a person do what they do all we want but we will never eradicate evil. No amount of legislation, medication, or anything else is going to change the broken nature of a human being. My wish, is that in the face of evil, we as a society could be authentic about what we are really feeling. Because maybe if we admitted that anyone who could walk into a school and shoot children scares us, then we might be able to embrace our humanity enough to embrace another. Maybe our mourning for others would really be mourning. Maybe we would really show compassion. Maybe grace might be extended. Maybe people would feel cared for because they wouldn’t have to wonder if they are being used by some cause. Maybe our authenticity would lead to a genuine care for each other. Maybe in saying how we really felt we would see what we would really hope for.

Maybe this might happen less.

So, for the sake of authenticity, how did you feel yesterday?

9 thoughts on “Sandy Hook Deserves Our Honesty

  1. Mostly, I felt angry and sad, because these tragedies are more preventable than Americans have resigned themselves to. It’s terrible, and deeply tragic, but empathy alone can become a kind of cowardice, an abdication of the ethical duty to act to make things safer for all. I agree with you about people jumping right into the debate when it feels like it’s too soon after the event, but it keeps happening, over and over, and Congress does nothing to prevent it. There’s an emotional tipping point, and some will react with anguish immediately, upset that it has happened again.

    It’s not just looking for blame or scapegoating. Other countries do not ever experience this level of gun violence, because they’ve taken steps to restrict the access of deadly weapons. Are those nations less afflicted by evil? Of course not. The difference is that fewer die needlessly. We make it abominably easy for citizens to commit murder in the USA. 40% of gun purchases here don’t even require background checks.

  2. First I felt anger and a lot of it. Had a hard time wraping my mind around what was going on. As the media coverage went on I though of my students. Just days before this we went over our lock down drills and us teachers had to make sure we did every thing we could to protect our kids. Even though it was just a drill. Hearing one of the teachers talk hours after this happened was earth shakeing. What she did for her kids, telling them that they were loved and telling them everything was going to be ok. Most of this got to be because this could have been my school, that could have been my teachers, my kids,my principle. Fear and sadness. Still can’t wrap my mind around it.

  3. I found out this had happened as the students in my school were leaving school on Friday, but I don’t think it really hit me untill I was watching the news when I got home. I first felt anger but I couldnt put my finger on what I was mad at. After watching all of the news coverage and hearing all the storys about how things unfolded. I think I’m angred that any child in an elementary school should have to fear this really happening to their school. They didn’t let this guy in the school he broke into the school, the school had everything in place the teachers were prepared but they were unable to stop this coward from killing so many. Fear that we can be so ready and so prepared and have no chance to protect the ones we love the most. I just breaks my hearts knowing it could have been my school it could have been my first grade classes it could have been my teachers. My first response to this was. It was unreal.

  4. Nate, thank you for your thoughts. I would add that our western culture is oversaturated with words, media reports and interviews, talk show opinions and the like. I resonate with what you shared. It seems to me that we, as a nation, would do best in the initial days after a tragedy like this to sit in silence and solidarity with those whose grief is beyond description or comprehension and, like Job’s friends, simply say nothing because, truly, there is nothing adequate that can be said. There is a time and a season for everything…A time to weep and a time to laugh, A time to mourn, and a time to dance…a time to keep silence and a time to speak. I agree with those who would say in these days, now is a time to weep, to mourn and to keep silence. Lord, have mercy.

  5. Pingback: Opinion Pieces on the Sandy Hook Killings |

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