What Will The New Year Bring?

Note: This column was printed in the Barrow Journal on December 26, 2012.

My spirit is dampened by the shootings in Connecticut, and more so by all the vitriol in the news media. There’s a dust storm in the air, and it’s not going to settle any time soon. I hardly know what to make of it all, yet as a mother rearing future men, I can’t help but think about their future.

I have been seeing a lot of anti-gun sentiment, and while I don’t like guns, and I’m not opposed to gun regulations or licensing requirements, this shouldn’t be our only focus. I don’t want to ban all guns because I don’t want to disarm honest, trustworthy people who feel they need the extra protection at home…because, unfortunately, a day might come when they do need it.

People who want to do harm will find a way to do it. On the day of the Connecticut shootings, a man in China entered a school and stabbed several children with a knife. And are we forgetting that the masterminds of 9/11 used box cutters to hijack airplanes?

The reasons why this happened is a huge puzzle with many pieces, but the biggest question is why aren’t we focusing on how people get like this? And what can we do to recognize and prevent it? Maybe restrictions on certain kinds of guns are needed, but maybe we also need more resources for families dealing with mental illness.

Maybe we do need to think about violent video games and television shows and how many hours our children are exposed to these things?  Then again, it’s not so much the video games but the lack of quality family time and conversations between parents and children.

Maybe we need to find a way to give more support to families, and give parents more time to stay home and bond with their children without losing their jobs?  (I have little hope for this because there will always be someone in line at human resources who is willing to work over-time when the mommy or daddy want to go home.)

Maybe we need to focus on turning our schools into places where real learning and engagement happens?  Maybe we shouldn’t be afraid to talk about morals and ethics in schools either. Okay, so no one will agree on how to do that because it will bring up religion, but isn’t there a way to talk about religion and morals without insulting the varied belief systems sitting in the classroom?

Probably not. We are a country with many freedoms, and for the most part, we live in harmony with our neighbors who do and believe differently than we do, which is admirable, but we have not yet found a way to respect each other or how to become the village that our children so desperately need.

Maybe I’m being cynical. Maybe I read too many anonymous comments on newspaper websites. I hope that this tragedy might be a turning point where some good things get done, but in the end, I also believe that sometimes bad things just happen, and there’s no answer. We all want an answer. We all shout things, but it doesn’t bring back those precious lives lost. It doesn’t mend our broken hearts.

I would love to hear your thoughts. I can't always respond to every comment, but I read and appreciate every one. You do not need to leave a name or e-mail, but unless you have left a message before, I will have to approve it before you see it here.

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