It dawned on me last night that I'm not sure I know how to do this.
How to raise our children in this kind of a world, in the way we want to raise them, to be the people we hope they will ultimately become.
I'm not sure I know exactly how I--how any of us-- are supposed to keep living peacefully, happily, and positively in a world where things like this happen.
Where people do this kind of thing.
Already, so many people seem to have the answers. If we would ban guns, this wouldn't happen. If we let everyone carry them, this wouldn't happen.
If we installed metal detectors.
Put security guards in all of our schools.
If we got rid of video games.
Of our TVs.
Of our computers.
If we had free mental health care.
If we were tougher on crime.
Maybe some of those things would have made a difference. And maybe they wouldn't have. At this point, we don't know enough about the specifics to really say, though that hasn't stopped so many from jumping onto their soapboxes, declaring that if only this had been different, such devastation couldn't possibly have happened.
Call me a cynic, but I tend to believe that if a person is intent on committing evil, they will find a way to do it. And yet, I hope with all my heart that we find that something could have been done differently. Maybe then, somehow, we can somehow avoid similar devastation in the future.
I don't pretend to know what needs to happen on a larger scale to stop this kind of thing. We seem to look at that larger scale a lot, though. If only we could change the laws. If only we could enforce the laws. If only we could march on Washington, to show that this time, we really are serious, and we are no longer going to accept a society that glamorizes, glorifies, and unfortunately often exemplifies violence.
If only we could look at the smaller scale a little bit more.
If only we could focus more on being the parents our children need us to be. The extended family members our families need us to be. The helpful friend. The concerned neighbor. The listening ear. The watchful eye.
The open heart.
If only we could be the voice that says "Something is wrong here, in this house, or in this family, or in this neigborhood. And we can't ignore it anymore".
If only we could look at what we want our children to know, and make sure we are teaching it. What we want them to be, and make sure we are helping them become it. What we want them to believe, and make sure we are an example of it.
I don't pretend to know what led up to this latest incident. But I tend to believe--I have to believe--that if each of us truly decided to surround the people in our lives--all of them-- with not only love and acceptance, but also with responsibilty and accountability, something would have to change.
Maybe the only way to make big changes is to start small. And when we don't know where to start, maybe we start by putting one foot in front of the other, realizing that there is something we can all do.
We can try. And then we can try harder.
We can fight. For our children. For their futures. And for the kind of world we want them to live in.
We can love. Our families. Other families. Strangers. Even when it hurts.
Especially when it hurts.
We can pray. For peace for the families. For peace for ourselves. For strength for all of us.
And for guidance on how to go on in a world as sad as this one.
We can live. For them. For us. For the future.
We can also, in the midst of something as devastatingly heartbreaking as this, choose to embrace all that is beautiful and good in this world. We can choose to surround ourselves not with TV and Internet images of horrific crimes and brutality, but with nature, and art, and music, and friendship.
Then we can hold our children.
And hope their world will be a better one than ours. And have faith that somehow, it will be.
As we hold them tighter still.