Crossville Chronicle, Crossville, TN


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

Text Only
  • LION AND THE LAMB: Four ways to demonstrate opposition

    Marcus Borg and John Dominic Crossan mention in their book, “The Last Week,” that Roman-occupied Palestine during the first century was under the control of Pontius Pilate who lived in the coastal city of Caesarea. Each year at the beginning of the Passover observance when Jews celebrated their liberation from Egypt, Pilate feared that they might be getting ideas about revolting from Rome, so he would come with additional soldiers on horses to beef up the Roman garrison in Jerusalem. 

    April 15, 2014

  • WE THE PEOPLE: Is it (new) party time?

    The Democratic and Republican parties are toast, according to Joe Trippi. The Republican Party is coming apart at its Tea Party seam. Democratic candidates struggle to celebrate President Obama’s health care successes, while responding to criticism of his failed promises, e.g., government transparency.

    April 15, 2014

  • TIDBITS: I found it at the library

    I have such fond memories of going to my local library as a child, searching through shelf after shelf and finding a book that would make me a Little Princess in World War II England, or bring me along as Nancy Drew solved the Secret in the Old Attic.

    April 14, 2014

  • STUMPTALK: The reason words have meaning

    If words did not have accepted meanings we would not be able to communicate effectively and civilized society would not exist.

    April 14, 2014

  • Lion and the Lamb: Do we really believe in democracy?

    The recent Supreme Court decision, McCutcheon v. Federal Election Commission, is in a long line of debates about power in a democracy. Should power be in the hands of all the citizens or should it be in hands of those who have greater wealth and social position?

    April 8, 2014

  • We the People: Public education or business opportunity?

    A month ago, we followed the money trail left by a ‘think tank’ to the major sources funding an attack on our traditional, locally controlled public schools. We saw that a handful of billionaires provide major support to many organizations lobbying for change.

    April 8, 2014

  • Stumptalk: Just another government lie?

    There is a vault located in Fort Knox, Kentucky. It was built in 1936 and encased in 16 cubic feet of granite and 4200 feet of cement. The door is made of 20-inch thick material that is immune to drills, torches and explosives.

    April 7, 2014

  • GARY'S WORLD: The chance to speak your mind

    Are you tired of hearing people complain about the way things are run in Cumberland County? Or, do you like the way the county government is run and operated in our beautiful county?
    Are you happy with the way things are, or would you like some change?

    April 3, 2014

  • LION AND THE LAMB: Digging beneath the headlines

    Our media have been focusing on two important events that have taken place overseas during the last several weeks.

    April 1, 2014

  • WE THE PEOPLE: SNAP, health and work

    A recent letter from Representative Diane Black to me states that she voted for the farm bill (with $8 million in Food Stamp (SNAP) benefit cuts) because she, like me, is a supporter of food stamp benefits for Tennessee families who qualify. That’s a lot of families, as most recipients are families with children and the elderly. Now, recall that there was already a major cut to the food stamp program back in the fall. But for some Republicans, that was not enough.

    April 1, 2014

Marketplace Marquee
Must Read
Section Teases
Seasonal Content
AP Video
Raw: Royal Couple Visits Australia Mountains Raw: Pro-Russian Militants Killed on Base Captain of Sunken South Korean Ferry Apologizes Boston Bombing Survivors One Year Later Sister of Slain MIT Officer Reflects on Bombing Raw: Blast at Tennessee Ammunition Plant Kills 1 Hoax Bomb Raises Anxiety in Boston Egypt Clamps Down on Mosques to Control Message After Fukushima, Japan Eyes Solar Power New York Auto Show Highlights Latest in Car Tech Ex-California City Leader Gets 12 Year Sentence Disbanding Muslim Surveillance Draws Praise Hundreds Missing After South Korean Ferry Sinks Passengers Abuzz After Plane Hits Swarm of Bees Town, Victims Remember Texas Blast At Boston Marathon, a Chance to Finally Finish Are School Dress Codes Too Strict?
Hyperlocal Search
Premier Guide
Find a business

Walking Fingers
Maps, Menus, Store hours, Coupons, and more...
Premier Guide
Weather Radar