Friday's news of the shooting in a Connecticut elementary school has rocked the world with its senselessness and suddenness. Many of us here on campus were pulled out of the pettiness of our finals’ week study sessions and holiday plans in an unforgivably chilling manner. Facebook and Twitter feeds usually filled with complaints about lack of sleep where instead replaced with prayers and the ever-unanswerable question ‘Why?’
Ignore the whole gun-debate aspect; though that is something we cannot continue to put off as a nation of free people. What has struck me most about this whole Sandy Hook shooting was not the fact that it happened, but the fact that people are surprised by where it happened.
Of course, the fact that someone our age walked into a grade school and decided to take lives that were hardly lived is gut-wrenchingly shocking and perplexing. That’s not what I mean by location. I am referring to the many people thrown in front of camera crews (seasoned news anchors and politicians included) who have remarked on the scary and surprising fact that this happened in the safe, small-town that is Newtown, CT.
‘Oh no, not here! This is one of the nicest/safest/quietest neighborhoods in the country!’ And I cannot attribute this quote to any one person because nearly EVERY person who has commented on the situation has said some variation of this.
I’m not sure what ‘not here’ means though. Do you mean that if, God forbid, a shooting takes place in my youngest brother’s high school in Detroit, no one would be as shocked or as heartbroken because, you know, it’s Detroit?
I often say to my friends you can’t account for crazy and it’s true, you can’t. It is a variable that will always be independent. It exists everywhere and it isn’t always violent. But when those violent bursts occur, it is not limited strictly within the city limits of New York or Chicago or St. Louis or Detroit or Los Angeles or Atlanta.
I’m also pretty sure that the right to bear arms exists in this entire country, not just the violent parts. Along that same vein, so does the right to live. Or be certifiably crazy and unmedicated.
Arguably, the people on TV talking about this shooting were struck by the fact that this event just occurred in their home town and were compelled to remark on how they could never have seen this coming. That I completely understand. But what I hope to stress is that this hit home for everyone in the country. Not a single person who watched this unfold on a television or computer screen reacted with indifference, nor could anyone imagine this happening in their local elementary school.
Obama gives tearful press conference on Sandy Hook shooting
In the words of our president "these neighborhoods are our neighborhoods and these children are our children." They are also our grandchildren, our baby brothers and older sisters, our cool aunts and loving moms who all have the right to die a natural death.
The focus of the news coverage should be on our futures and the right to have one. Not on the small and safe nature of a town. It is not a fact worth repeating because crazy/shocking/horrific/saddening/unexplainable events can happen anywhere, and there is no accounting for them.
This tragedy, now the second deadliest school shooting in US history (Virginia Tech massacre left 32 dead), should leave us wondering not if there is any safe place left but what can we do to secure our freedoms (whether that means ensuring some and limiting others) and our right to life.