Crossville Chronicle, Crossville, TN

Opinion

December 17, 2012

TIDBITS: There is no comfort in the ‘why’

CROSSVILLE — I had another column written for today, but I couldn’t bring myself to publish it when I heard the news out of Connecticut Friday morning. It was a vaguely amusing look at what isn’t going to happen on Dec. 21, 2012, with the conclusion I fully expect the world to keep on turning and most of us to wake up on Saturday.

Such light-hearted stabbing at a not-going-to-happen apocalypse quickly exited my mind when I learned of the tragedy in Newtown, CT, where 26 people, mostly children, where killed in a senseless act of violence. For many parents, their world ended when a gunman walked into an elementary school and started shooting. They will never be the same. There will always be an empty place in their hearts and they will mourn, not only for their loss, but for the loss of what might have been. Those young lives were ended before these children had a chance to live, to learn, to grow. Parents have been robbed of the dream of celebrating graduations, helping their child through the pains of a first crush, family dinners talking of little league and class plays, walking their daughter down the aisle at her wedding and welcoming their children’s children into their lives.

As news of the horrific events unfolded, it was the scenes of children walking away from the school crying as they were led from the school by the Connecticut State Police that hit me like a punch in the gut. They were tiny little people who had started the day like any other kindergarten student, full of hope and joy for the day ahead. The survivors lost something Friday, too. They lost friends that will never be replaced. They lost their innocence and that can never be restored. They lost their feeling of safety and, in time, they may regain a portion of that.

We also learned about the heroic actions of teachers, custodians, students and others that likely saved other lives. When the shooting began, teachers hid their students and put themselves in harm’s way to protect their charges. A custodian ran down the halls warning classrooms of what was happening and getting them to lock their doors. The librarian kept kids safe and calm in a closet while they waited for police to arrive. The principal ran toward the gunman and tried to tackle him. She was among those killed.

On Monday, law enforcement continues to sift through the evidence and we as a nation continue to mourn. By now the shock has faded and many are wondering how to keep this from happening again.

Friday’s scene was one we’ve seen too many times in recent years. I still clearly remember the Columbine massacre in 1999, when two students killed 12 of their classmates and a teacher before committing suicide. I remember when 32 people were killed in Blacksburg, VA, at Virginia Tech. I remember 10 little Amish girls killed after a gunman took hostages in a one-room school house in 2006. I don’t want to remember any more.

In the face of such senseless violence and death, many of us shake our heads and think, “Why on earth would someone do such a thing?” We ask so that we can hopefully understand and in that understanding we might find comfort or, at least, an answer as to how to keep such a thing from happening again.

Years ago, as the newspaper staff grappled with the question “why?” Editor Michael Moser told us, “There is no way to apply logic to these situations.” And he’s right. There is no circumstance under which any person with an ounce of humanity could condone such a selfish act. That comfort we seek in asking “Why?” is not to be found. Even if we learn of the reasons this person looked to exact such an act of vengeance, it will not heal the hurt caused by his actions. It would not offer the parents of those precious children who were killed an ounce of solace.

We know a bit about the how. This person, with a history of mental illness, found access to guns, purchased legally by his mother, whom he also killed. He did not walk into the school — he forced his way into the building, subverting the security measures in place there. Knowing this, what can we do to keep our children safe in schools, where they go to learn and grow? Should we add more fences and locks and metal detectors? Do we need tougher gun laws? Or should be arming our teachers so they can fire back? Did our society fail to offer help for mental illness? Were there signs that someone could have spotted in the weeks leading up to the shooting that could have tipped them off? Was there more that could have been done? The talking heads will discuss these questions and more in the coming weeks and, maybe, they’ll offer some suggestions for moving forward. I’ll leave that to them. I don’t have the answers. I wish I did.

What I do know is life is precious. And fleeting. To the families that lost someone Friday, you are in my prayers. To everyone else, hug your kids a little tighter, tell those you care about how much they mean to you and don’t let an opportunity to spend time with them pass you by.

• • •

Heather Mullinix is assistant editor of the Crossville Chronicle. Her column is published on Tuesdays. She may be reached at hmullinix@crossville-chronicle.com.

1
Text Only
Opinion
  • Lion and the Lamb: A promised land?

    Back in biblical times there was a group of people who believed that God had promised them a segment of land on this planet that would be theirs forever. Who could have known back then that this ancient promise and territorial justification would be used by their descendants today to claim the same segment of land?

    July 29, 2014

  • We the People: Bring back the American dream

    Our economy continues to expand. The stock market is at record levels, yet many ask why so many of us are struggling?  Barely half of us believe the American dream is attainable.

    July 29, 2014

  • Tidbits: Taking a low-tech break

    Feeling increasingly strangled by my electronic leash, with phone, text messages, email, social media and a variety of other forms of communication always at my side, I took the weekend off.

    July 28, 2014

  • Stumptalk: Governing before and after mass corruption

    Laws in America were originally written simply. Every citizen could read them quickly and understand their meaning. The founders wrote the Declaration of Independence, the Articles of Confederation, the Northwest Ordinance and the Constitution of the United States, none of which was longer than 4,500 words.

    July 28, 2014

  • We the People: The last dance

    Charlie Hayden’s last recording session with his early partner, Keith Jarrett, was in 2007.  The songs they played were mostly melancholy.  The second album coming from that session includes Weil’s “My Ship” and Porter’s “Every Time We Say Goodbye.” The dark ballad “Goodbye,” by Gordon Jenkins, was the final track.

    July 22, 2014

  • Lion and the Lamb: Living in a pressure cooker

    The Gaza Strip, a small Palestinian territory about the size of Washington, D.C., has been in the news almost every day.  Its key location at the eastern end of the Mediterranean Sea has attracted a number of occupying powers over the years, and it has  been at the center of much Middle East history.

    July 22, 2014

  • Tidbits: The excitement of election day

    On March 12, 1996, there were 427,183 votes cast in the presidential primary election. Among those votes was mine, the first vote I cast in an election, just two days after my 18th birthday.

    July 21, 2014

  • Raising the minimum wage

    My first job from which FICA was withheld was a minimum wage job, seventy-five cents an hour. And yes, even then no one could live on that little money. However, I was a high schooler living at home where my father provided room and board. The job gave me pocket money to buy gasoline, to take my girlfriend out for movies and burgers, and to buy tickets for baseball games.

    July 21, 2014

  • Lion and the Lamb: Children on the move

    The news this past week has focused on the humanitarian crisis developing on our southern border. Thousands of unaccompanied children from El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras seeking to escape from the violence, human trafficking and extreme poverty in their countries have been entering the United States.

    July 15, 2014

  • We the People: Memo to gun rights groups

    The recent incident in California helps us understand why we cannot rely on mental health services alone to solve the problem of gun violence.

    July 15, 2014

Marketplace Marquee
Parade
Must Read
Section Teases
Seasonal Content
AP Video
Netanyahu Vows to Destroy Hamas Tunnels Obama Slams Republicans Over Lawsuit House Leaders Trade Blame for Inaction Malaysian PM: Stop Fighting in Ukraine Cantor Warns of Instability, Terror in Farewell Ravens' Ray Rice: 'I Made a Huge Mistake' Florida Panther Rebound Upsets Ranchers Small Plane Crash in San Diego Parking Lot Busy Franco's Not Afraid of Overexposure Fighting Blocks Access to Ukraine Crash Site Dangerous Bacteria Kills One in Florida Workers Dig for Survivors After India Landslide Texas Scientists Study Ebola Virus Smartphone Powered Paper Plane Debuts at Airshow Southern Accent Reduction Class Cancelled in TN
Hyperlocal Search
Premier Guide
Find a business

Walking Fingers
Maps, Menus, Store hours, Coupons, and more...
Premier Guide
Weather Radar
2014 Readers' Choice
Graduation 2014