Like everyone in the world, I have been trying to come to terms with the horrific deaths of children and teachers in Newtown, CT. It would have hit home no matter where it happened but I grew up in Bethel, have friends in Newtown and have myriad memories of beautiful days spent there.
This does not tarnish my memories but grief ravages my heart to know that these lives were taken and innocence lost. It is mostly the innocence of children which comes to mind but I know it also encompasses the innocence of adults, too.
I responded to Barrie's post on Bloom this morning and found myself writing probably much more than she bargained for. Since I could not articulate my words and the path they took any better than I already have (nor do I want to delve back into the pain again to do so), I hope she will excuse my repeating them here. Be sure to go to her blog to read her thoughts, too.
There is no need to know why he did this unspeakable thing. It is totally inexcusable. For me, it is about the vulnerability of our minds and our children's minds and the effects of what we experience in this country where trauma is foisted on us by multiple 24-7 news feeds which turn tragedy into entertainment.
Over the past few decades, the United States has developed a fascination for violence that does not exist in other countries. Only here do we raise the criminals who shoot our innocents to an elevated status. We do not just report the news, we force feed it to the public over and over and over, flashing images of the perpetrator until his face is burned into our brains and his actions are graphically discussed or, worse, exhibited. Without realizing it, we also condone opinion in the guise of news. To fill air time, the topic is discussed ad nauseum until the reporter's opinions have crept into the story which then extrapolates it into fact in our minds.
Stores sell violent video games and the players get points for 'kills'. Children play these games. Played mostly in isolation, some can spend hours in front of the screen. Is there any wonder that they might become desensitized to the value of human life? Look at the television lineup. Our TV and much of our movie entertainment are comprised of crime and mayhem. A number of the reality shows do nothing to portray healthy family participation or competition with honor. Some TV shows resort to lewdness, ridicule and injury for entertainment. Even 'America's Funniest Home Videos' runs a laugh track when someone gets hurt. It is supposed to be funny. How awful.
Is it any wonder that we can list the mass murders by name easier than we can list the last ten presidents? That we know what Charles Manson did in detail but we may not know what Mother Teresa did for her country's people? Our country's values have morphed over time and are influenced by our environment and our society and what we accept as the norm in the media and play. We all have the means to follow our own special path. If we do so with creativity and compassion, we will be better for it. If we understand the importance of love and support for those around us, we will be better for it. I agree with you there.
There is no placating our psyches, though. It is not just about us healing from the damage wrought by this event. It is about what we choose to accept into our lives, to embrace wholeheartedly and what we do for others in our sphere. We need to face the things that have contributed to our society's unrest and its morbid fascination for violence. Until we move towards more healthful entertainment, this will happen again. Another person will grow angry and his anger will fester and he may see his shot at fame rests in violence. To make concrete changes, we must assess our own role in it in order to promote change within our families and our society as a whole. In order for us, our children and our society to grow with grace and compassion, we need to practice it ourselves and show, by example, that there is another way to live.
I know that I have been ranting a bit but it stems from me trying to come to terms with my own grief. I want to discover how I have contributed to this horrible phenomena by accepting the things which have become commonplace in our lives. My travels overseas have shown me that we have, indeed, become a nation onto its own in this matter. I feel sorry for that. No one action will turn it around. My challenge is to find more creativity in my life and welcome others into it through sharing my joy. If we create, we are not destroying. The two cannot coexist in the same action.
PS These are my opinions and I am still working everything out in my mind. One personal note I will share with you...on Saturday, I went to the memorial service of a close friend's mother. Sitting in the church with them, hearing stories about her life was uplifting and comforting. When they tolled the church bells 91 times, one for each year she lived, I lost it. Newtown's children only get six bells. I could not stop crying.