Responding to Tragedy

Like the rest of the world, I’m stunned and sickened by the recent violence in Connecticut.

I don’t have any answers, although I know the internet and social media are zinging with suggestions for how to prevent similar incidents in the future. Debating gun control and the availability of competent mental health care is appropriate, and one way people are coping with their emotions in the echoes of this act of unparalleled senselessness and cruelty. Like many, I am concerned that media is immortalizing the criminal responsible for the murders of these innocent people, rather than devoting time to the memory of lives cut short by one person’s evil actions.

My greatest feeling right now is one of helplessness. It hits me particularly hard as a teacher to think of my classroom as a place where students and I could be vulnerable to someone wishing to cause us harm. Since the stories of the murders at Sandy Hook school have captured the media, I am uneasy in the realization that there are people out there who see nothing as sacred or worth protecting. This knowledge makes me feel small, and leaves me not knowing what to do.

I cannot do anything for the students and staff who died in fear and violence on Friday. They are at peace, however tragically, and are beyond suffering. I wish I could do something for their families in this time of unimaginable sorrow, a feeling shared by people all over the world right now.

To address our feelings of helplessness, I suggest we change what we can, and choose to respond to the horrors of December 15th by doing something positive for others rather than sinking into stunned apathy. I am not able to help the children lost at Sandy Hook Elementary School, but I can work to alleviate the suffering of children in my own community. Nothing I do now can bring those children from Newtown back, or alter the brutality of their last moments on this planet. What I can do, today, is support the health and well-being of children here in Alberta.

Our culture is reactive, and we habitually respond only to incidents huge enough to catch our attention. What if, in loving memory of the children who died in Connecticut, we take steps to help children we are capable of helping? How huge an impact could we make if we chose to honour the six and seven year olds we mourn this week by addressing the suffering of children in our communities? Can we grow from this tragedy through generosity and compassion?

In memory of the twenty children and six staff members tragically murdered on December 15th in Connecticut, The Electrician and I have made a donation to the Edmonton Women and Children’s shelter. We encourage everyone who is able to make a donation of funds or time to a cause that helps at-risk children in their own communities. What greater response could there be to these senseless losses than to create an outpouring of love and support for all children?

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4 Comments Add yours

  1. carolrood says:

    Kay, thank you for your wonderful thoughts! I grew up near Newtown, in Fairfield Ct. As the days have gone by I have become quite aware of how this tragedy has affected people I grew up with who knew teachers, families, children. We should take this opportunity to reach out to those in our community we can help, I agree with you! God bless you and The Electrician!

    1. Thank you Carol. I think of those poor children and the adults who tried to protect them often. It’s amazing how quickly things can change in a horrible way for families, and I think it’s critical we do our best to protect all children in all communities.

  2. Chelsea Mac says:

    A very touching post I have shared with others. I made a donation on your behalf to the Autism Society of Edmonton and Area so they can continue working and advocating for those with autism in the hopes nobody else will slip through the cracks of medical and community supports and end up committing such terrible actions. Autism does not cause violent actions, a lack of support and underlying mental issues can.

    1. Thank you for your comment, Chelsea, and for following my commitment to helping and supporting children in our community. While we can’t change what has happened in Newtown, you are absolutely correct that we can make a difference for children who need support for the future.

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