A lot of people are voicing their concerns, beliefs and opinions after the tragedy in Connecticut and I have struggled with what to say – or if I should say anything – since I first heard the news. My heart breaks of course for the families and communities affected and I know that nothing I can say or do will assuage their loss or heartbreak….
I will not get into a debate over gun control except to say that we must remember that the shooter did NOT obtain his weapon legally – he stole it from the registered owner…
I will not get into the argument over the presence of God in our schools – except to say that this open letter from a PTA mom speaks to that point eloquently…
I think the part of all of this that shakes me to the core of my being is the topic of mental health… and how we aren’t doing anything about it… or not enough… or whatever… and sadly I don’t have the answers either. My own brother caused massive amounts of disruption in my childhood because of his mental instability and back then – early 80′s and 90′s there weren’t even labels that could be attached to it.
I remember at one point, a counselor at a facility that we had taken him to for help even suggested that if my parents wanted a “normal” life they should simply turn my brother back over to the state… That’s not a solution… that’s giving up on someone. Of course my parents didn’t by the way… they did anything and everything they could do to try to make life more normal for all of us… to reach him on a level that would matter… They tried family counselling, private school, religious indoctrination, various medications and truth be told, nothing made a difference. Mostly – I think - because if you don’t know the demon you are fighting, how can you fight at all?
In truth… I feel lucky. As disturbed as he was and for all I know still is, he wasn’t – in my naive mind – dangerous. I’m not sure my parents didn’t live in fear that he might become dangerous at some point… there’s a reason why they installed a lock on their and my bedroom doors after all… I mean who makes it possible for a TEENAGE girl to lock her parents out?
I also know that he could have been sucked into something that I don’t want to begin to imagine…. for all I know, he could have, at any time, snapped. My family keeps guns in the house (My kids know the reverence to be had for any type of weapon and they are under lock and key- the guns… not the kids) but that’s not even the argument is it? I mean if someone who is not in their right mind has snapped to the point that THIS is a solution – the idea that taking the lives of others is necessary, is the lack of a gun going to change their mindset?
Why is there no help? I know the helplessness of a parent who can’t reach their child. I watched my parents struggle for years. Why are there no answers? Why does it take a tragedy like Connecticut to bring these issues to light… and most of all, what can I do about it?
I have no relationship with my brother… haven’t heard from him in years in fact… but I am responsible for two young men and how they act and react to the world around them. I think we’ve come a long way in the mental health field since my brother was a teenager… but yet there is still so much further to go.
I want to wrap the entire community affected by the loss in love and light and I wish peace for them… and that includes the family of the alleged gunman. How lost must he have been to be unable to realize the horrific outcome? How pained are his relatives as they not only cope with the loss of their family but the burden of feeling that maybe they should have done more…
And most of all, as a parent when stories like this hit, I often ask myself, am I doing enough. Am I giving my own children enough love and encouragement? Am I teaching them to spread love and not hate? Am I instilling values in them that will guide their actions today, tomorrow, and every day after that? Is it ever enough?