It is the story of our times — someone walks into a public space, a theater, a mall, a school, armed with a gun, motivated by hate, by hurt, by some irrational form of desperation, and starts shooting. They come not to kill a specific person or persons, but to stage a dark and warped act of terror. They don’t care about the people on the receiving side of their hateful infliction, or their loved ones, their hopes and dreams. It's selfish and its beyond disturbing. For hours now, we've heard the details, the motives, the locations, the timeline, but all I want to hear about is the victims. I want to know about those 20 young children, all between 5 and 10. I want to know what they wanted to be when they got older, what their favorite school subject was, what they wanted most for Christmas. This world was robbed on Friday, and is every time we suffer this kind of loss. The next Dr. King, the next Steve Jobs, the next Gandhi may have all perished in the gunfire of a Connecticut schoolroom that morning. A parent should never have to bury his or her own child.
There have been 31 school shootings since Columbine. School shootings in every other country in the world COMBINED since that time is 14. We've created complex systems and over-funded programs to monitor foreign terrorists in every country, but somehow we've overlooked the terrorists at home. No one ever knows how these people got their guns or why they were given a pass on psychological evaluations. Somehow, in this complicated, brilliant, and resourceful society, where we can design a way to share cell phone content by touching two phones together, we can’t decipher the reasons these shootings keep happening nor a way to make it stop. As social critic George Carlin once said, "we have bigger houses and smaller families; more conveniences, but less time; we have more degrees, but less sense; more knowledge, but less judgment; more experts, yet more problems," in other words, we're missing something; we're moving ahead, but all while falling backwards.
This is not a free country. A free country is one whose children feel safe. The countries we've been involved closely with over the past decades: Iraq, Libya, Afghanistan, Bosnia, etc. — we were motivated to get involved because of our distaste for violence, our horror at seeing innocence slaughtered, a desire to pass on the flame of freedom to nations dictated by fear. Just last week, President Obama proclaimed, 'The world is watching' to Syria's president Assad, as the revelations of the lengths his regime may go to destroy its own people worsened. It's time for the rest of the world to say to us, 'We are watching.' Forget about nation building and removing terror from everywhere else except here. It's time to fix this place we all call home, it's time we hugged our children more and our guns less.