We are all connected in some way; I believe this to be true.  I may be Pollyannaish, but watching my kids at play, or mothers kissing and embracing their children tightens my throat and moistens my eyes.  It’s my favorite time of year when I get to watch extremely sappy Christmas specials that make me catch my breath and hide my face from my kids, lest they see their father melancholy over the passing of his children’s youth, wishing we could slow down or do it all over again.  How is it, I often wonder, that so many people can abuse or murder children.  Too often lately.  How do so many kids suffer in the world today?  I feel pangs of quilt when I witness children suffering from lack or neglect, whether passing them by on my way to work or seeing their faces staring up at me from my television, tear stained faces silently pleading, “Why is this happening to me?” Why indeed.  What type of animal are we that we place so many things over the welfare of our children, be it greed, anger, search for love, religion (or the hate thereof) instead of looking with amazement and wonder at the purity in their souls, the lyrical beauty of their giggles and the wonder and innocence with which they view the world.  Until we as adults, pollute their minds, their personalities, their environments and often their very souls, if we let them live at all.

an evil I cannot fathom...

an evil I cannot fathom…

As the next few days unfold, we’ll struggle to understand this carnage, the reasons behind it, and the brutality of it.  We can’t adequately describe it or put a name to it for no such adjective can capture the pure hideousness of it.  No noun will ever be invented that can name the disgust or vileness of the act.  I’m certain I felt the earth stop.  20 innocents, eager with excitement for the day to begin in the new adventure called kindergarten, with no thoughts of wealth, power, achievement, greed or avarice.  Maybe today was the first day with new sneakers, a new pencil case or maybe Art class was today.

Will we discuss how they died? Focus on the weapon? Will we talk about how this damaged maniac had this trouble or that trouble, maybe needed help, maybe had one too few or too many pills or was in debt or felt alone or such.  We’ll wring our hands again and put this law in place, that regulation, maybe throw some money at some such cure for this.  But we can’t name it.  How will we fix it?

My daughter asked me the question. “How can you look a 5 year old in the face and kill them?”  I don’t know.   But that’s the battle here.  That there are people capable of looking children in the eye as they take their lives is unthinkable, but real.  I don’t have any answers.  As a father, I feel the loss of these kids, surely not as greatly as their parents.  But I feel it.  Seeing the still photos of one group of kids, hand-in-hand running across the parking lot with the scream of terror frozen on their faces, brings me to instant tears, tears of pain and anger.  And I want to know how someone can function in society with this level of ambivalence towards the most innocent and defenseless and still go undetected.  I don’t buy the “just snapped” explanation of so many of these incidents.  No, at some point in time, there were signs but we chose to ignore them or were afraid to act upon them.  Maybe we’re afraid to be blamed, maybe we’re afraid it’s not politically correct, maybe we’re so consumed with our own dysfunctions that we feel a little ashamed to point them out in others.  I can’t say. But surely a man who armed himself for battle, including body armor, to take out a class of kindergartners must have left some trace, some bizarre quirk or behavior, some red flag somewhere in his life.

No, we’ll discuss this incident they way we discuss all such tragedies today.  Looking to gain some edge, some advantage, some way to use this as proof that “our side is right, we told you so.”  Because that’s all we do.  We let ourselves get led around like sheep, bleat the loudest when the wolves attack and then look to the incompetents we’ve hired to teach us the way, solve our problems, and do the heavy lifting.  But like with all ills in society today, the problem is that we wish to wash our hands of this, hoping to avoid owning it.  We’ve no will to look each other in the eye and say, “yes, we caused this” We teach our children that they should take what they want, because they are entitled to it.  Then we wonder why there are bullies in school.  We teach them that no one should deny them the right to be themselves, no matter how disfigured they become physically or psychologically, then we blame society for not accepting them as they progress further and further away from that hated word, “Normal” We look upon those with damaged psyches and claim that for us to be enlightened beings we must integrate them into society at every turn, gently rocked to sleep by our own conceit while they in fact, struggle to fit into the square-hole existence we envision for their round-peg personalities.

When we do finally touch this subject, after the sensitivity of it fades, we’ll hopefully come to admit that anyone who willingly takes another’s life is somewhat mentally damaged.  Innocent by reason of insanity, or guilty but insane should no longer be the “legally correct” designation.  We need to come to grips with the fact that there are those among who just don’t belong among us.  Let’s look for clues that help us predict who they are.  Let’s be honest about what we find.

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