There is Evil In This World: Part 2

When I was a kid, maybe in 4th or 5th grade, our school was put on lockdown. Someone had robbed a nearby bank at gunpoint and was on the run. Most of the schools in the area did the same thing – locking down, just in case. As a child, there was a mix of excitement and fear there. Excitement because it was a shift from our day to day activities and because it was difficult to imagine the real danger being within our school under those circumstances. And fear because… what if it was?

We mostly followed the lead of the teachers and administrators that day, all who suspended regular academic activity and allowed us to play Heads Up 7 Up, or in my case – the Oregon Trail (since we were in the computer lab at the time of the lockdown). But as the hours spun on, the excitement began to fade – replaced now by boredom and hunger.

It was long past regular school closing hours when we were finally allowed to be released from lockdown and into our waiting parent’s arms. In the end, we were mostly just annoyed that a few hours of our free time had been dedicated to sitting in a classroom waiting the situation out.

And that was the extent of the most dangerous day I ever endured in school while growing up.

Today, some 20 years later, kids have to worry about a hell of a lot more.

Because today, on what would otherwise have been just a regular school day in a quiet sleepy town with only 3 police officers on the force (in other words – the kind of place where no one would ever expect anything like this to happen), a grown adult walked into an elementary school and started taking lives.

I’ve seen different reports on various sites, but it looks as though at least 27 are now dead. 20 of those were children. I spent most of my day breaking inside, thinking both about those who have been lost, and those who will spend the rest of their lives with the horrific memories of surviving.

I cried when I first saw the news. Real and immediate crocodile tears bursting to my eyes. Nothing about this is OK. Nothing like this should ever happen anywhere. But especially not in an elementary school, to hundreds of innocent children who started their day firmly believing they would always be safe.

I wrote about there being evil in this world just a few weeks ago. Today, I am even more sure of that fact.

What have we come to, when no one is ever safe anywhere?

Not even at an elementary school.

I had other things I intended to write today. Obnoxious jokes about some of the twists my life has taken lately and updates on where I am at in the foster to adopt process. But now… none of it seems right. Because I can’t wrap my head around anything but this.

This tragedy that never should have happened.

And a sick man who clearly sought out children to target.

Yesterday I joked online about my experience getting my fingerprints done. I was there in order to get cleared for my adoption home study. The three gentlemen next to me were there in order to get cleared for their automatic weapons licenses. I posted the juxtaposition on Twitter, completing the thought with a #differentworldviews hashtag.

Yesterday, I thought it was funny more than anything else

Today, I just think it is sad.

I was horrified as I watched the news and saw how many stations were interviewing children. They had just gone through this unbelievably traumatic event. To think that reporters were standing outside that school like vultures waiting to pounce on them… I just do not understand. Even the pictures being posted everywhere online felt wrong. Can you imagine being at your moment of deepest despair, completely unaware that anyone is photographing you, only to then find those images later plastered across the web?

Something about that seems so very wrong to me.

You know what horrified me even more though? The multiple tweets I saw by multiple people claiming that this, along with other recent shootings, was all just part of a conspiracy planned by those who want to strip Americans of their right to bear arms. Are you fucking kidding me right now?!? 27 people are dead, more than half of them children aged 5-10, and the first thing you can think of is to defend your own gun rights? Something about that made me furious. How incredibly self-involved can people be, worrying about their right to bear arms and jumping straight into a defensive position within hours of all those lives being so brutally taken away by a madman? It was all I could do to control my own anger, and the only thing that stopped me from furiously replying to the vitriol myself was the fact that there were others out there (more eloquent than I) doing it for me.

@ChristyRidTram tweeted out “How is this for a ‘gun right’ – the right of a 5 year old to not be shot by one.”

@JohnFugelsang captured my thoughts completely when he tweeted “Dear Right Wing NRA Pals: Nobody’s coming to take your guns, but thanks for letting us know you’re the real victims here.”

And @MikkoAlanne really summed things up quite nicely by tweeting “Gun laws work. Ask the countries that have them:” to which he attached this picture:

I’m sorry, I’ve never been a fierce advocate one way or another when it comes to gun regulations. And it never would have occurred to me to turn any of this into a political conversation had it not been for the myriad of disturbing reactions I saw today where people somehow managed to paint themselves and their precious gun rights as the real victims in this tragedy. I personally am not a gun owner, nor do I see myself ever being one, but I grew up in a family of gun owners and I appreciate those rights. I have friends up here in Alaska who are responsible upstanding citizens, and who also have their own arsenals. I’m cool with that – in fact, I’m totally counting on their protection if the zombie apocalypse ever actually hits. But you know what? If stricter laws would mean people like this could not get their hands on weapons they will then use to gun down 27 people in one day – maybe those are things we should be discussing. These mass killings don’t seem to be happening in countries with stricter regulations like Australia and Spain. But now (and especially just hours after this tragedy occurred) is not the time to be starting those discussions. Trying to make this seem like all part of some bigger ploy is absolutely ludicrous. And making those conspiracy theory accusations as the details are still just coming out – disgusting. Shame on you. Those children and adults whose lives have been stripped away from them deserve more than that. This was not a conspiracy theory meant to strip you of your precious weapons. It was a heinous act committed by a man so sick in the head I cannot even fully comprehend it. People are dead. Children are dead. Anyone trying to take the discussion to anything beyond the tragedy of that right now, might just have a few screws loose themselves.

There are so many other places our attention should be focused at this point.

My heart is breaking, and I do not understand.

I wish there was something I could do, something we could all do, for the children and families who are now hurting. 

@doctordani, a child psychologist I know through this crazy blogging world, did send me some links to resources this afternoon. They are mostly resources for those currently struggling with today’s tragedy, but I thought I would pass them along just in case: 

 

Child-Focused

Psychologist Recommendations re: Today’s Shooting — http://www.wfpl.org/post/kids-may-ask-about-newtown-shooting-be-frank-and-reassuring-psychologist-says

National Child Traumatic Stress Network — http://www.nctsn.org/resources/audiences/parents-caregivers/what-is-cts/12-core-concepts
 
Risk Factors for Traumatic Reaction — http://www.nasponline.org/resources/crisis_safety/Risk-Factors-Trauma-Reaction.aspx

Responsible Media Coverage of Crisis Events Impacting Children and Youth — http://www.nasponline.org/resources/crisis_safety/Media_Guidelines_2012.pdf

Talking to Children About Violence (available in other languages) — http://www.nasponline.org/resources/crisis_safety/talkingviolence.pdf

A National Tragedy: Helping Children Cope — http://www.nasponline.org/resources/crisis_safety/terror_general.aspx

Helping Your Child Manage Distress after a School Shooting — http://www.apa.org/helpcenter/aftermath.aspx

Coping with Crisis: Children with Special Needs — http://www.nasponline.org/resources/crisis_safety/specpop_general.aspx

Tips for Talking with Youth After Disaster — http://store.samhsa.gov/shin/content/SMA11-DISASTER/SMA11-DISASTER-09.pdf

Talking with Kids About the News — http://www.pbs.org/parents/talkingwithkids/news/talking.html#.UMuDECIqie8.facebook

 

Adult Focused

Tips for Survivors of a Traumatic Event — http://store.samhsa.gov/shin/content//NMH02-0139/NMH02-0139.pdf

Managing Traumatic Stress — http://www.apa.org/helpcenter/recovering-disasters.aspx

Disaster Distress Hotline (for disaster crisis counseling) — (1-800-985-5990)

Mental Health Services Locator  Toll-Free: 1-800-789-2647 (English and Español)

National Suicide Prevention Hotline — 1-800-273-TALK

 

She also sent a Mr. Roger’s quote I think we could all probably benefit from:

“When I was a boy and I would see scary things in the news, my mother would say to me, ‘Look for the helpers. You will always find people who are helping.’ To this day, especially in times of ‘disaster’, I remember my mother’s words, and I am always comforted by realizing that there are still so many helpers – so many caring people in this world.” ~ Mister Rogers

Beyond that, I am at loss right now.

The whole thing feels so senseless. And as much as I want to help, I’m not sure where any of us would even begin with that endeavor.

But I am certainly open to suggestions.

In the meantime, I hope all you mommies and daddies hug your children extra tight this holiday season, as they may be coming to realize for the first time that there is evil in this world.

At nearly 30 years old, it is a realization I am still grappling with.

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33 Responses to There is Evil In This World: Part 2

  1. Amy says:

    I’ve been crying all day. I can’t even imagine. I feel bad because my husband came home with an early Christmas gift (post coming tomorrow because it’s that big) and I am like thanks but all I can think about are those 40 parents with wrapped presents under the tree that their children will never get to open. :’(

  2. Michaela says:

    “Shame on them” is right!!

    I kinda flipped my lid on FB b/c of all the “Oh don’t blame the gun” posts.

    And I knew I shouldn’t have but couldn’t help….

    Not the time…

    And I too have been crying all day….

  3. bec says:

    I own a gun because I hunt with my dad, but if it would save even one innocent life, I’d give it up in a heartbeat. Take it, melt it down, make doorknobs. But that is not how this works. Better gun control laws are needed, right now.

    • PMM says:

      How would you giving up your own gun save an innocent life?
      And with the statement you just made, in light of today’s tragedy, did you light the fire pit? Are you melting down your gun right now? Will you agree to never, ever hunt again because some lunatic in CT shot a bunch of children? Where’s the logic in any of that?
      Plus that town has one of the strictest gun control laws, and those guns did not belong to the shooter, they were his mother’s. So you think he would have cared about any stinkin’ law?
      What if one teacher had been armed & trained to use it properly? 28 lives saved. Well, except for the gunman, so 27.

      • bec says:

        My gun is locked in a safe, but if the government asks that I give it up because they want all guns handed over, fine. That’s my feeling and if you disagree, that’s ok. I’m not saying you have to give up yours, just that I would be willing to give up m

        My feelings may be complicated because a family member was murdered by a young man who grabbed his father’s unlocked gun. So yes, I would like more gun control, however it can happen. Restrict gun sales. Require licenses for owning a gun. Or take them all away. Whatever stops this madness.

        • Carmen says:

          If giving up my gun..or having stricter gun laws would keep them out of the hands of criminals, then I am like you – I would be all for that. But no one seems to address the problem that CRIMINALS DO NOT OBEY THE LAWS. Every law abiding citizen in this country could turn in their gun. This would only leave the law abiding citizens unarmed & the criminals fully armed.

          I do agree with something you said..require a license for OWNING a gun – not for just purchasing a gun.
          Now this will certainly NOT stop the “criminal” problem, but it would surely reduce the # of people who are able to OWN (possess) a gun that have no business doing so.

      • Michaela says:

        What kind of world do you want to live in where a teacher of a classroom has to be trained in firearms? And I wonder how many teachers want that as part of their job description?

        The argument that access to guns isn’t the problem is very similar to the argument that the flu shot isn’t important because it doesn’t wipe out the flu. That’s true. It doesn’t. But it DOES contain the damage. Condoms don’t cure AIDS, but they contain the spread and the death toll. How is reasonable gun control any different? Planes don’t cure gravity. Exercise doesn’t prevent death. Umbrellas don’t make it stop raining. Gun control doesn’t prevent mental illness or crime. But you do what you can to reduce the damage.

        Just because you can’t stop every criminal doesn’t mean you don’t try!!

  4. Taffee says:

    I couldn’t have said it better myself! We absolutely need some kind of gun control!
    My heart goes out to all the families of this school and small town. What a terrible, terrible tragedy!

  5. PMM says:

    They are defending gun laws because in Obama’s speech to the nation, he had the bad taste to make allusions to stricter gun laws. It wasn’t the time or place for him to make reference to that, either. Everyone knows he’s trying to take people’s guns away and everyone knows that this episode will give “them” more fuel for the fire. These guns belonged to that guy’s mother. He stole them from her, apparently. He would have secured a gun from somewhere, he was on a mission. People that do this kind of thing manage to find what they need. The only people that abide by laws are law-abiding citizens! Criminals don’t care what the laws are!
    I don’t use drugs, they are illegal and bad for you. But they are everywhere. Anyone can get weed on any street corner. Drugs are illegal in Mexico and look at what the cartels are doing…killing thousands of people, taking over towns, and causing a huge wave of migration out of Mexico. Do they care about the laws? No.
    So telling me that I can’t own a certain type of gun, well I just won’t be able to go buy one. But tell some deranged psycho or some bad-intentioned criminal and they do not care. They will get a gun.

    • jo says:

      Interestingly enough, those Mexican cartels that are “killing thousands” are killing them with guns smuggled over from the US.

      The vast majority of guns used in crime in the US were originally legally bought then used in crime, lost, sold privately, borrowed or stolen. There is no shady organisation importing all of these weapons because there is no need. If you lower the supply of legally bought weapons, you will limit the guns in the hands of criminals by extension.

      If the law mandated that guns were kept in locked gun safes as they are here, then perhaps he wouldn’t have been able to wander into his mothers house and murder her with her own guns before going out on his rampage.

      Yes. He might have gone with a knife but I’d prefer everyone’s chances, my own and my children’s included, against a maniac wielding a knife over one wielding a high powered, self loading gun.

      To be honest, I don’t think it was out of place for Obama to vaguely allude to changing gun laws. I think he could have gone further. How many more bodies do you want to have littered on the ground in spree killings before it’s time to make a change? Which day is right?

      The day when it is so clearly illustrated that the costs are just too high to pay.

  6. Iva Comar says:

    What about restricting bullets? What if anyone one citizen could only have six bullets at a time, with each bullet numbered and accounted for?

    With shooting ranges managing their own supply?

    • Ashlee says:

      i havent read the rest of these comments all they way down so i dont know if someone else has said something in regards to this, but i TOTALLY agree. Not that it would prevent people from buying different places or stocking (sp?) up, because people always find away around things. I definitely think it would help the problem. That or make the bullets extremely expensive.

  7. Lynn/pa says:

    I, too, lost my mind with this whole situation and am absolutely appalled and sickened by the press out there with their fingers on the shutter. Absolutely disgraceful, unacceptable, and insensitive. No $$ amount I’d worth photographing a child groeving over something he/she should have never even read about let alone witnessed firsthand.

  8. Lindsay Logic says:

    Having read about video games like Grand Theft Auto, etc., they say that the more people play them, the more the brain is desensitized. I honestly feel like the mass murder video games are part of the problem. So start with gun control, but clean up the video games while we’re at it!

    • Taffee says:

      Yes, I agree. Those mass murder video games need to be banned, stopped, illegal, thrown away, destroyed…what ever it takes. It does desensitize these young men to murder. I don’t have sons, but if I did these games would never be allowed in my home!

  9. Lindsay Logic says:

    And PMM is right. If someone wants to commit a crime, they are going to find a way. So senseless and sad. My heart just aches for their families!

  10. heather says:

    I get the disgust. Believe me, I felt it too. BOTH sides of the gun control fight jumped all over the situation. I wish everyone could have just not engaged in the banter for one day, and honestly…that includes you too. I get that you were angry, but couldn’t you have waited? Because angry posts like this one are just as much part of the problem as the tweets that infuriated you. It totally distracts from what we should be doing right now which is coming together to support this community. What started out and ended as a post meant to offer support, went right down the toilet the minute you stepped up on your soap box.
    I think any conversation about guns right needs to take a place in line behind discussions on mental health in the US and ways we can do better at getting help for the mentally unstable and identify those that pose a risk to others.

    • Joe says:

      Agree. I have got to stop reading this blog because every post is such a contradiction. This is a post to make yourself feel better… Where is the actual compassion? Half of it was your lame comparison of your “lock down” experience. I’m sure the links you pasted at the bottom will comfort many. So tired of you going on and on….totally finished reading here. You have totally fueled the same fire you claimed to despise. Just look at all these indignant comments about guns. Not about the children or the others….guns. Good job.

  11. Michaela says:

    If our bridges and tunnels were caving in or falling down senselessly killing people we would get together as a society and find a way to stop these senseless deaths…plain and simple…in order to solve a problem put basic logic to it…there are 2 common denominators and they aren’t law abiding citizens and knives!

    In Australia they have strict gun control laws… rifles only, no automatic weapons, pistols and that require registration. Their last mass killing was 20+ years ago…. now what does that tell you….. sure if you are a criminal you can get illegal weapons.. but for joe blow mentally ill they it will make it a lot harder….

    This guy wouldn’t have had the access…

    • Lawfrog says:

      He would have had the access because the guns belonged to his mother, not to him. He didn’t purchase them, she did. She had them in her home. I’m not commenting on gun control one way or the other, I simply want to say that requiring registration, etc. is fine, but doesn’t really do anything when the guns are borrowed or stolen from family members who have them as was the case here.

      • Shannon says:

        But if the laws were stricter, his mother wouldn’t have had one either…

        • Johana says:

          Yep. His mother wouldn’t have had those weapons here. If she did have a gun, it would have been locked in a gun safe.

        • Lawfrog says:

          We can’t say that for sure. It depends on what those laws are exactly. Unfortunately, as some others have said, laws do not stop the criminal element. They are criminals because they don’t care about the laws.

          • Johana says:

            No. We can say it for sure.

            http://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gun_politics_in_Australia#section_1

            He would not have had access to an assault rifle here. His mother would not have had those weapons. If his mother did have a firearm, it would have had to have been kept in a locked gun safe.

            Like I said, I would much prefer my and my children’s chances of surviving a maniac wielding a knife over a semiautomatic rifle.

            A maniac stormed a Chinese elementary school with a knife and slashed 22 children and an adult. He caused terrible injuries but the stark difference between what happened in China and what happened in Newtown is that none of the Chinese children died. http://abcnews.go.com/m/blogEntry?id=17984663

          • Shannon says:

            I’m Canadian. NO ONE in my family owns a gun (immediate or extended). I do in fact know one or two people who own guns for hunting and the only time those guns come out of their locked safe to see the light of day is the month of November – hunting season. You’re right, criminals don’t care about laws and they’ll get guns. But criminals don’t open fire in an elementary school. Mentally ill people do. And they wouldn’t have access to guns if their mothers didn’t think they needed them for protection and because it was their ‘right’ to own them.

        • Michaela says:

          That was the point I was trying to make…if the federal ban on was put back in place he wouldn’t have had an assault rifle.

          To say that a criminal will always find a way is pointing out the obvious…we all know this…but we don’t have to put the guns in their hands!

    • Johana says:

      I could not agree more.

      The Port Arthur Massacre in 1996 was used as impetus for change in Australia. Not for political point scoring. Australia came together and in a very united way decided that we couldn’t afford to pay that terrible, terrible price again.

      This is the cost of free and easy access to guns. Every day 34 people in the US pay for the freedom to bear arms in a unrestricted way with their lives. Yesterday, many of those were children.

      Tears won’t stop the next crazy person shooting up a cinema or a mall or an elementary school.

      Better crisis mental health care and restriction to weapons might.

  12. Alaina says:

    I wrote about this today, too. I couldn’t let go of Aubrey on Friday, and when T and I went out on Saturday, leaving her with my sister, even then I had a hard time. Six and seven year olds. It’s just incomprehensible.

  13. Honestly, it made me angry that people on both sides of the gun debate started screaming about it before the true identity of the shooter was even confirmed.

    I appreciate that you included those links because mental health treatment is the real conversation we need to be having in this country right now.

  14. Pingback: Silence Solves Nothing | Single Infertile Female

  15. Tabs says:

    I spent much of the day crying when I found out about this. It was all over the news here too, and I spent the day just being flabbergasted and heartbroken. I actually threw up when I saw the news. I was so upset by it, that it took a toll physically and I spent a couple of days depressed from heartbreak.

    I cannot, for the life of me, fathom how anyone could wish that kind of malicious intent towards an innocent child.

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