Here we are, mere days before Christmas, another tragedy, yet one more massacre at one more school. The frequency and escalation of these travesties and also the amount of lives lost is disturbing. It is now “too close to home” spanning our country in its entirety. I have stopped watching the news, particularly at night, not because I want to be ignorant to what is happening in the world, but because I want to be able to sleep, and live my life on a daily basis free of fear.
I believe in the right to bear arms. I grew up with an extended family of hunters. While I wasn’t a fan of killing wildlife (I had on occasion, hunted with my dad when I was only single digit old and would purposely make noises, open candy bars loudly, break branches, walk heavily and clumsily (okay the later is a natural talent I have) to scare away any potential “victims”) it was family tradition. It put food on our table, it brought joy to those who hunted. A bit sensitive, I as a child I kissed a sucker fish that had been caught and thrown on the shore to die (hope nobody I’d want to kiss is reading!). I remember my cousin Danny shot a deer that was so old it had no teeth! The family joke was, he didn’t shoot the deer, the deer died of a heart attack when hearing the gun shot! These are good memories, all were done with respect for and safety of others. My parents certainly educated us on the danger of fire arms, as there was always a locked gun cabinet filled with my dads prized fire arms in our homes. My father didn’t own oozies, or machine guns. I wonder, how does one acquire them? Why would anyone need one, excluding our beloved military?
I am grateful for the period of time in which I grew up. Seemingly endless bicycle rides across town, doors unlocked, keys left in the ignition of cars, no cell phones, good grief we had party lines! Listening to my parents talk about the drills they had in school in case of bombings, I have always felt fortunate that I grew up in a time where that wasn’t a daily threat. I am not saying there wasn’t crime, I remember arriving home with my mother and siblings, when my mother opened the door, there was a set of boots behind the door, and a man wearing those boots, who pushed the door back at her. All my dads guns were lined up against the wall. As my mother swiftly and quickly pulled us kids up the hill to the car, I remember seeing a second man looking down at us through the picture window. This was frightening; it is something my family will never forget. It took a very long time to feel safe again. How are the survivors of the victims, those who witnessed this horrendous senseless act ever going to feel safe again? How will they combat the pictures in their mind, the pain in their hearts, the sadness in their souls? Crime, evil have always existed, but it seems to me that it is snowballing from north to south, east to west. Soon all schools will have emergency drills in the event of something as heinous as what took place today in Newtown Connecticut.
These are stressful times, people out of work, the economy sucking the life out of most of us, and now the holiday season is upon us which seems to bring out more theft, more crime. When tragedy strikes of this magnitude, I am reminded of Charles Dickens “It was the best of times, it was the worst of times”. People caring about and helping each other and their neighbors is such a beautiful thing, to me it is the best of mankind. I focus on the beauty of that because if I focused on the bad, I would live in a constant state of fear. What quality of life is that? We participated and witnessed neighbors helping neighbors on a local level last year when Tropical Storm Irene devastated much of Vermont. Flooding took out roads, bridges, homes and businesses. I was so proud that I lived in Vermont because of the manner in which neighbors helped neighbors, where hands were held out, where community pulled together to help one another. I found it very moving. I believe there are “gifts” if you will, when something tragic happens. I have learned that with every tragedy if I keep an open mind and heart, and am willing to be humbled, I am blessed with the gift of perspective. Perspective changes, priorities change. Roads, bridges, homes can be rebuilt, replaced, lives cannot.
I have no problems tonight. This has miraculously changed from last night! I hold onto gratitude in my heart for the safety of my family and friends, and the knowledge that life is precious, beautiful. I feel it important to let my loved ones know how much they mean to me. I say “I love you” so often to my family and friends, in person and via phone conversations that I accidentally ended a conversation with a bill collector the other day with “I love you”. I bet you he was surprised!
Twenty parents (40) are going home tonight without their young beautiful children. Some children will go home to a lost parent. Families, (including the assailant’s) lives have been forever changed. Just as September 11th changed all of our lives, these “massacres” are changing ours too. How do we protect our children? How do we protect our families, ourselves? How do we stop these heinous crimes from happening? How can we feel safe in a world where it seems peril is every where? I wish I had the answer, I wish someone had the answer.
Tonight across our country, prayers are being said, vigils are being held in memory and honor of the lives lost today. I believe in the power of prayer. When I hear myself or someone else saying “All I can do is just pray” I think to myself “Just”? For me (a very grateful recipient of many answered prayers) prayer is massive, huge, the best thing we can do for one another. There is absolutely nothing we can do or say to change the devastating outcome of today, but we can pray for them, we can offer our hand, sit in silence just being present with the families of those whose lives were taken away and we can learn from the pain of others. Let our loved ones know we love them.
Whatever your religion, your spirituality or beliefs, let us pray (to a higher power of your understanding), meditate, visualize strength and healing for the families, friends, neighbors, teachers, students, emergency rescue teams whose lives were changed today. Let us also take from this the gift of perspective. Slow down, take time to enjoy your family, your life, and let us be grateful for all that we have at this moment. By the way, I call my higher power “God”.