There aren't easy words to describe the despair and sympathy I feel for the victims and community of Newton, CT. The massacre of so many people, most of them young children, is unthinkable, the pain immediate, the horror of the act appalling. I note we as a culture have found ways to talk about a event like this though: Columbine. Virginia Tech. We have things to compare it to. We have things we decide we can discuss, and things we can't. We make room for the privacy of grief (I hope). And perhaps decide not to "politicize" what has happened. There will be time for that.
Those are the things we say.
I've tried to work out what I want to say for a good part of the evening. This has been a peculiarly violent year. With each event, it seems clearer to me we urgently need to discuss gun control and mental health better and with more of an urgency for action. We need to step away from the language of denial, before we end up normalizing a world where something like this--innocent children being murdered by an armed monster--if, in some ways, we haven't already.
What produces someone who can do such a thing? How do we defend whatever our social malfunction is that no one can tell this person is capable of horror until it is too late; and how do we countenance his access to weapons of--let's be honest--mass destruction?
I don't pretend I know the answers. I don't like it when people rush, for example, to fit a tragedy like this into a handy bucket, as former Gov. Huckabee did regarding the absence of prayer in schools. (FWIW, I don't find that the religious are immune to mental illness or violence, and any victims, however religious they may have been, are not spared by virtue of it. It's a cheap association to make and kind of an insult to the victims. As if their small lives were held in God's balance and found wanting. As if God might have stopped it, but just wasn't hearing the right kind of supplication. It's a grim kind of witch-doctor thinking.)
I'm out of words about this, for now. But I think as a culture we will have to talk about what to actually do, and at length.