Tuesday, December 18, 2012


I spent last Friday focused on the work of my niece, who had finished her schooling. It was a celebration of her accomplishments. My wife and I sat in the ballroom of the Denver Convention Center, and whispered about our memories of graduations past: hers, mine, our son's. In keeping with our protocol, we were careful to go back and refer to our son's achievements as "promotions," since they are all part of one larger movement toward a goal. Currently embroiled in a struggle to get him through high school, we reflected on what had been and what will be.
When the day was over, we came home to the news from Connecticut. One of the headlines read: "Unspeakable Horror." Of course, that first adjective meant nothing, since that's all we would do for the days and weeks to come. We would speak of it. The shootings. The motive. The victims. How could this possibly have been avoided? More questions than answers.
My first reaction was to be thankful that I was hanging solidly in the bosom of my family in the town I grew up, half a continent away from Newtown, Connecticut. Half a continent away from my own home where the homicide count for the year had already surpassed the total for the year before. I thought of the shrines to the teenage girls who were killed on the corner that I pass each day on the way to the school where I work. The school where, last Friday, there was a Holiday Assembly. Children gathered to sing and dance and celebrate. What if it had been my school? Could it happen where I live?
It has. At last, an answer. Not the one I wanted, but it was an answer. Then I landed on the next question: When is it going to be okay to have a discussion about ending gun violence? Never mind the whole gun control debate. I don't care at this instant whether or not people should own guns. We've gone way past that. How are we going to keep five-year-olds safe in their Kindergarten rooms? How are we going to stop stray bullets from killing fourth graders? I'm tired of the questions, so I'll stick with that when. When the second amendment runs up against the right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. When will enough be enough?

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