How to Talk About a National Tragedy

I spent Saturday night Christmas shopping, but it was with a heavy heart after the tragic event’s of Friday morning in Connecticut. I had thought about writing my column this week on holiday traditions and recognizing my joy as a parent, but it seemed somehow out of place. As I meandered Target on a date night with myself, so many aspects of the holiday felt contrived. I couldn’t get excited about fake plastic trees knowing that so many parents and families were grieving. Our good friends live a town away from the tragedy and have a son in elementary school. I worry about them. I worry about my own son, who isn’t even in school at the moment. I worry about the son inside of me waiting patiently to come out. Mostly, I worry about all of us. It’s so often the case after something like this happens to retreat to your strongest viewpoints. To make alienating statements starting with ‘I always’ or ‘I would never’. Instead, maybe we should try approaching this discussion from a place of love and rationality. The problem is, those things don’t often go hand in hand. As a firm feminist liberal, I want to cry out, “Ban all guns! Let’s move to Europe!” Neither of those is a realistic option, and both are just my fear talking. One of the best pieces of writing about this whole situation that I have read so far came from one woman’s blog, entitled “I Am Adam Lanza’s Mother”. My favorite line in her essay was:

“In the wake of another horrific national tragedy, it’s easy to talk about guns. But it’s time to talk about mental illness.”

She is 100% correct. Guns are an easy, heated debate that so many of us are talking about, but its not the complete story. Although if you want a fair, unbiased account of how gun laws contribute to these types of massacres, I suggest you read the comprehensive reporting done by Mother Jones. It is a straight facts, cause and effect article that sets religion and politics aside. The New York Times also ran a fantastic editorial about limiting the types of guns sold and how that has helped other countries (Australia's numbers were shocking).

Mostly  I want to tell you that I am grieving. I am grieving and frustrated and angry. I wonder how we all got so removed from each other. Even in the depths of my depression, I never considered harming another person. It is inconceivable to me the extreme mental anguish that must have contributed to Adam Lanza’s mentality. I mourn for him, for his family, but most of all for the kids and the bright futures they could have had. But in between the sadness there is anger. And maybe we should get angry. Maybe we should get angry and channel that rage into change. Instead of wasting time getting angry with each other, on Facebook and Twitter, we need to get mad at people who can make a difference. Write to your legislators, law-makers, senators. And most importantly, vote. Want to know how to talk about a national tragedy? Get angry from a place of love and respect. But most of all, support change. Because, regardless of your specific viewpoint, I think we can all agree that something is wrong here and it needs to change.