What was the first thing that ran through your mind when you read or heard the tragic slaying of 28 people in Newtown, Connecticut on December 14?
My first thought was simply, “What monsters have we borne in our midst?” I’m sure you were shocked. Your reaction was probably similar. Immediately we all began the search for more information. We got on Twitter and Facebook and we followed newsfeeds like this one from Hartford Courant to feel closer and help us understand the inexplicable.
Major media immediately trotted out tragedies past to compare statistics to other senseless crimes with multiple victims. Perhaps that is to give us perspective, but it feels like sensational filler to me.
I spoke with friends on the phone and online. All our conversations ended with blank space as we wondered how this awful event occurred. Over and over again we said, “I just don’t understand how this could happen.”
People who support gun ownership pitted arguments against people who want to ban guns. In the debate of constitutional rights, the entire tragedy is lost. I read and discussed topics regarding mental illness that blamed violent video games. We talked about lack of parental involvement in their children’s lives…not as a conscious decision, but forced upon us by the constant rush of obligations and responsibilities that seem to leave little time for parenting. We talked about violence in general, violence in youth, and violence on television, in movies, and violence in war. We talked about domestic violence and we talked about the possibility of violence in everyday life.
It didn’t take long to exhaust those lines of thought. There are no definitive answers to a tragedy. So I moved on to the next question: What can I do?
I found an article to share that seemed helpful. The authors describe how to talk to children. (We probably all think we know how to talk to children, but I picked up several tips I will incorporate into my life.)
A couple of other friends had suggestions for helping the victims’ families and other students cope with this terrible ordeal. People all around me immediately wanted to send gifts, cards and flowers. I applaud the generosity of such caring people, but that’s not the course for me.
Volunteer Prince William hosts an Untrim a Tree campaign every year. The need for gifts for children in poor economic conditions in Prince William County has swelled to 5.700 children! The deadline date passed with more than 1000 gifts still needed, and Volunteer Prince William on Facebook is pleading for our help.
Please take new, unwrapped gifts to: VPW at 9248 Center Street, Manassas, Virginia, 20110. If you can, offer a few hours to sort and wrap gifts. If you have no time left to shop, donate cash or gift cards. If you can’t get to the Manassas office between 8:30AM-5PM by Wednesday, Dec.19, bring those gifts to me and I will personally deliver them for you on Wednesday morning.
“What can I do?” I cannot help the lost children of Newtown, but I can care for the children here at home. You can too.