The shooting that took place at Sandy Hook Elementary in Connecticut is beyond imagination – beyond any nightmare our brains could make up. I found myself yesterday turning off the radio and deliberately avoiding any news on the TV. Simply put, I did not want to know.
I did not want to know the details. I did not want to know the body count. It is too hard to imagine one family loosing their child. It is impossible to imagine what happened in Newtown.
But today I have listened a little more and thought a little more about the tragedy. How do our minds integrate such horror? Do we even want such horror in our heads? How do families ever recover from this? How does a town ever recover from this? What should our response be to this terror?
I am fearful that our response might be fear. What if we are driven to close ourselves off even more from one another? If the gunman is found to have had a mental illness, does that make us more fearful of people with mental illnesses? Does it make us want to lock up our schools tighter and hold our kids’ hands tighter? Does it make us fearful of everything and everyone. I really hope not.
I live on the west coast of Canada – the opposite side of the continent to Newtown Connecticut. There is nothing I can directly do for the people of that town. But maybe I can reach out right here, right in my community to people impacted by violence or loss. People impacted by tragedy are everywhere. Maybe their tragedies are not the headline stories but there is a lot of pain in many of our homes. In front of me in the grocery store line up and sitting beside me on the bus. The solution to loss, grief and fear is community, not isolation.