A couple of weeks ago, on December 14th, 28 people (20 of them children) died in a school shooting in Connecticut. The motive still remains and the wounds have not diminished. Included among the dead victims was the killer himself, 20 year old Adam Lanza. Lanza was said to be a recluse who had social problems. With him, he carried three guns into the Sandy Hook Elementary School that day and enough ammunition to kill everyone inside the school.
What did the victims do wrong? Nothing. They did everything right. He shot his way into the school violating privacy, innocence, and life. Every victim was shot three to eleven times, and what made the crime most heinous was the fact that 20 of the 27 victims were children. Whether or not you're an Obama fan, I could not help but feel moved by some of his words at the vigil held for the victims--- these neighborhoods are our neighborhoods and these children are our children. We won't watch them grow up, graduate, get married, or have children of their own. Sandy Hook made me think of Aurora Colorado and the movie theater shooting which made me think of 9/11 Terrorist Attacks which made me think of Columbine High School shooting. What is the common thread you ask? Innocent people died and they were mass killings.
Each tragedy was proof that we can come together as a society. Each tragedy is also proof of the pure evil that exists out there among those of us who are good.
We are reminded of how much things have changed over the years and we are reminded constantly of the evil among us in so many different ways. My mother and father speak of a time when people did not have to lock their car doors or the doors in their home. People did not have to walk around paranoid and cautious of who was around them or behind them in daylight or dark. There's a part of me that feels violated as a result of society's demands as a result of this "evil among us" that I speak of. And while I feel this way; I understand. I understand the precautions, the quest for all of us to stay safe, to continue living our lives, and pursuing successes and dreams. We're reminded each day of imminent evil--- TV shows, current events, new government laws and sometimes what seems to us to be extremes, and societal changes.
I often watch the TV show Criminal Minds because it's about a group of people (The BAU--- Behavioral Analysis Unit) who's job it is to get inside the mind of the unsub and to be able to pick this person out of a crowd and describe the suspect. So many of the episodes have been disturbing and striking of what those who experience tragedy undergo. I think of the victims and I think of the law enforcement and I wonder exactly how it is that they're able to deal with and process all this tragedy and sometimes on a regular basis. There is a monologue from Season 4 of the show, and every time that episode roles around, I am reminded of each and every tragedy that's taken place during my lifetime, they all come to the forefront of my mind, and my emotions are once again drawn to the surface. I hear Thomas Gibson's character Aaron Hotchner deliver this speech and it feels so real that I am able to draw parallels to actual events that I have heard about, read about, and because I feel this sense of compassion, I feel indirectly impacted by them---
“Sometimes there are no words, no clever quotes to neatly sum up what’s happened that day. Sometimes you do everything right, everything exactly right, and still you feel like you’ve failed. Did it need to end that way? Could something have been done to prevent the tragedy in the first place? 89 murders at the pig farm. The deaths of Mason and Lucas Turner make 91 lives snuffed out. Kelly Shane will go home and try to recover, to reconnect with her family again, but she’ll never be a child again. William Hightower, who gave his leg for his country, gave the rest of himself to avenge his sister’s murder. That makes 93 lives forever altered, not counting family and friends in a small town in Sarnia, Ontario, who thought monsters didn’t exist until they learned they spent their lives with one. And what about my team? How many more times will they be able to look into the abyss? How many more times before they won’t ever recover the pieces of themselves that this job takes? Like I said, sometimes there are no words, no clever quotes to neatly sum up what’s happened that day. Sometimes the day just……
In many ways, we don't value people and things as we should. We don't realize what we have until what we have is gone and part of it is that society as a whole (as a majority) teaches us to be selfish. We grow up wanting more and more rather than being grateful for the things that we have. It's okay to want more, but it's not okay to hurt others to get it or to become greedy. I grew up in a town where most of my peers had everything that they wanted, especially in the form of material goods. I wonder what life lessons they learned along the way. I wonder what was important to them, I mean really important. Usually and unfortunately, greedy children grow up to be greedy adults. I dislike being cynical, but maybe the truth is that we can't fix or make things better if we're not willing to admit our wrongs. I thank God that there are still good people in the world. The Lord works in mysterious ways and we must never give up on Him because He doesn't give up on any of us. Whenever I am ready to give up or be discouraged, I am reminded of my support system, the wonderful people around me who believe in me more than I believe in myself. And in the end, maybe that's what it's all about--- maybe we all want to be loved and acknowledged and believed in. If we have no positive purpose, than what exactly are we here for?
I will close these thoughts with a speech from the TV Show Blue Bloods in which Tom Selleck's character Frank Reagan talks about losing a friend during 9/11
"Where were you on 9/11? That question has become part of the fabric of our lives as Americans. On 9/11, I was with a hero; I was with John McKenna. On that beautiful cloudless morning that seemed to promise nothing but goodness, John and his dear wife Molly were about to pull out of the driveway for a much needed and long overdue vacation, but when news of the attack came over the radio they both knew that Montauk would have to wait.
Molly kissed him goodbye, urged him to be careful, as she had done every day for the almost 30 years that he served and protected this city, and then John headed for ground zero.
Where were you on 9/11? On September 11th, 2001, John McKenna saved more than 100 lives. You see this, it's worn by the first responders that day. John could wear it as proudly as anyone who was there.
Why them and not me? As a cop, I've asked myself that question many times, but I have come to realize that just about any New Yorker could ask themselves the same question, and some questions have no answers.
All that is left for we the living to do is honor them, take care of them, and rededicate ourselves to the cause for which they gave the last full measure of devotion.
May the road rise up to meet you,
May the wind be always at your back,
May the sun shine warm upon your face,
The rains fall soft upon your fields,
And until we meet again,
May God hold you in the palm of his hand."
Rest in peace to all the victims of crime and mass murder. May your deaths not be in vain. And may God watch over all of us.