It is clear in these first days after there Connecticut shootings that many reflections, views and much advice will be given. The following are just thoughts and reactions that came on a single afternoon — Dec. 14.
I have cried off and on all day; my spouse can hardly contain his anger. Today, I was not working, for better or worse, arising to the fact 20 children and more adults were fatally shot and killed at school. School. A place we deem off-limits to the more dark aspects of young life. Morning has not broken, morning is broken and mourning has begun. We don’t know the details right now. As I look out my northwest window, I see small birds feeding at their station and wonder absently why we continue, at hindered expense, to feed these critters. The simple explanation is because they hunger; the other explanation is because we care.
Over the Thanksgiving holiday, my husband and I spent approximately two weeks visiting all of our grandchildren, ages 6, 4, and 4 in different parts of the state. The time was a blessing getting to know the special individuals the kids are becoming. Our experience included picking them up from school and watching other parents/grandparents meet their wards. With barretted hair, forgotten gloves, unzipped jackets, original artwork in hand, and backpacks half-slung over shoulders, grinning 4-6 year-olds ran to welcome arms, anxious to share their new experiences with those who cared. I find myself this afternoon watching the President of our United States brushing away tears discretely, trying to be a “man” and “leader” so as not to look weak as he, once again, reinforces the need to support one another throughout another unspeakable tragedy. As a parent, I understand and admire his courage and empathy; as a grandparent I applaud his genuine pain. He is a father and he knows. A massacre of children should never happen.
Since the election, Congress has been embroiled in an issue of money; “how much do I have and how much can I keep?” The issue has consumed all of their time and salaries paid by taxpayers as they debate back and forth with one another. The heartfelt acceptance of today’s news should put politicians’ priorities, and indeed, the focus of each U.S. citizen into perspective. I fear it will not … and it saddens me greatly. Have we as a nation hardened our hearts to human concerns in lieu of our own agendas? Today, I cannot help asking: what issues are really worth our interest, hours, and support? What truly defines the USA?
As we cry today for babies and families, not one person is mentioning monetary concerns. No one speaks in biting terms of our elected President. No one cares to share their view of what our political representatives should do. It is apparent as I visit my neighbors this week before Christmas, it is unnecessary to be fighting one another politically or otherwise. Is this small sampling, a day of respite brought on by an unspeakable act, not an indication where our real priorities reside as a nation? As Americans this day, our base and basic concern for family overrides other matters, as it always has been when real actions threaten our community.
At present, it seems a reasonable step to move forward, to respect and acknowledge the past and participate in new remedies for our future as a kind and supportive nation; a view that matches the mourning parent next door, no matter political bend. Can “me-ism” be replaced with an “us-ism” solution? In a capitalist every-man-for-himself government the question is and has always been, “ am I to remain an island furthering my own wants or can I find a compromise to the greater good of the USA and its people?.” The solution requires sacrifice, an alien concept to some. Very scary to many.
The majority of human beings, I suspect, are as those in my community: nice folks, hoping to help. I propose we are United States and are greater than self-centeredness. “Something lost, something gained,” appears most relevant on this date. We cannot let today’s obscenity pass. Doing nothing is not an option. We are all better than that. In our hearts we know this.
Today’s news could have included my grandchildren, or yours, or your children. I mourn all equally. In my expectation, I would hope for a dialog and understanding with the mother and father next door that would prevent this waste of human love and potential. Again, I appeal to our political counterparts to “wake up and smell the coffee.” Stop bickering and do something that represents the majority of US citizens. The president was reelected because his views aligned with the majority of the population. Get over it and move on. We are all tired of meanness and selfish lobbying. As members of a functioning society outside of D.C., we are used to compromise and helping each other. How about congress doing the same? In my neighborhood we don’t have that far to “reach across the aisle”; we just walk across the lawn.
In the meantime, I will cry again while saying goodnight prayers. This may go on for some nights as I seem unable to help this human emotion. Innocent children and small birds depend on us. Let us feed them. And, let’s not argue about the brand of birdseed.
Carla McConnell lives in Montesano.