Tragedy in Newtown: Why Does This Feel Familiar?
So, it happened again.
Another shooter shot up another school, another group of innocent people were murdered, and now we have another national tragedy. This time, 20 of the 28 massacred were children between the ages of 5-10. Kindergartners, first graders, second graders, third graders, and fourth graders; all of them innocent, all of them gone.
It’s hard to talk, or even write, about something so shockingly devastating without getting emotional. A number of television news reporters, people who make a living off of talking and speaking about subjects such as this, were left speechless on air after hearing details about the shooting from on-site reporters. Even the President himself had to fight to keep his composure while giving his speech to the nation after the tragedy, himself a parent to two little girls.
Images of the horrors of the day flashed across television screens across America. Facebook, Twitter, and any other social networking site you can think of, blew up with support for the families and victims involved. Flags across the country were lowered to half-mast. You could feel the heart of America crying.
But of course, amidst all this bloodshed, anguish, and sorrow, the cries for change and responsibility could be heard, very loudly. Gun-control advocates converged outside the White House demanding that the Obama administration do something about this. Followers of religion wondered how God could’ve let this happen, yet still prayed for the families, because, honestly, what else could they do? And inevitably, people demanded to know who the shooter was. Why did he do this? Who was he? Where did he come from? And how, on Earth, could he have the heart to shoot his own mother, then walk into an elementary school and slaughter helpless, innocent children? Children?!?! It was mind numbing. People have started to question their safety, and their children’s safety, in places where safety and security have never been an issue; schools, malls, movie theatres, etc. It feels as if there’s no more sanctuary anywhere. No one is safe anymore, ever.
All of these questions and emotional debates were thrown down on the head of the country only hours after the shooting, and I have a problem with that.
If you’re reading this article for a political discussion, a religious discussion, or a discussion about the shooter, you are reading the wrong article.
The Newtown shooting, to me, is not about any of that. This is not the time to be debating, promoting, or questioning political or religious agendas, and it is certainly not the time to be discussing the shooter, as if he deserves this national attention. We have, as a society in America, become so engrossed in violence and bloodshed, that every time something like this happens, it ends up on the airwaves coast to coast and everyone demands that something be done about it. These cries have become especially louder after the Newtown shooting because this has happened before; in Aurora, at Columbine, at Virginia Tech…the list continues to grow. But that’s the thing; these shootings have become almost normal to us. The only difference between those shootings and the Newtown shooting is that the Newtown shooting involved children. Another moral boundary wasn’t just crossed, it was shattered, and now we feel we have a moral obligation to do something about it. But will we ever actually do anything? Can we do anything?
My problem is this; these shootings have become a flavor of the month type thing for us. Yes, there will be overwhelming news coverage of this story tomorrow, the next day, and the week after that. We will probably still be hearing a little bit about it a month from now, but six months from now? Let’s be honest, a majority of you reading this article will have either completely forgotten about it, or will have moved it to the back of your mind, only to have the memory resurface when another tragic shooting like this happens again. You wouldn’t even be thinking about this shooting unless the media was covering it. 27 thousand people live in Newtown. Yet millions upon millions of people have brought it upon themselves to judge, criticize, decide, and apply action to something that didn’t even happen to them. I don’t know how many of you would feel about this, but personally, if I just had a loved one murdered at school, or watched one of my friends get shot at school, I certainly would not want the media smothering everything around me, and I definitely would not want to be answering questions about what happened on national television. Yet the media is there, not because they have to be, but because the nation eats up the coverage. How can you blame the media for sensationalizing a story such as Newtown when everyone around the country was hanging on their every update? It’s a sick reality, but it’s true.
The top ten shootings in U.S. history (not including Newtown) are:
- The Michael McClendon shooting in Alabama in 2009 (10 dead),
- The Aurora massacre this past year (12 dead),
- The Army Vet shooting in Camden, New Jersey in 1949 (13 dead),
- The Fort Hood shooting of 2009 (13 dead),
- The Jiverly Wong shooting in Binghamton, N.J. in 2009 (13 dead),
- The Columbine shooting of 1999 (13 dead),
- The Pat Sherrill post office shooting of 1986 (14 dead),
- The University of Texas sniper of 1966 (16 dead),
- The McDonald’s shooting of 1984 (21 dead),
- The George Hennard shooting of 1991 (23 dead), and
- The deadliest being the Virginia Tech Massacre of 2007 (32 dead).
Now tell me how many of those you recognized? Half? You probably only recognized the ones where media coverage was prevalent. Or maybe you noticed that a majority of the shootings were during the media era; when the media stretched across not just television, but also throughout the internet and social networking sites, which would only strengthen the copycat theory. People, as well as these shooters, see on television and the internet how much coverage these shootings get.
It’s almost a literal guarantee that you will end up on the news if you shoot up a gathering of innocent people. Think about that.
I’m not here to try and change the world, or make a decision or judgment on the Newtown shooting. It’s not something that I feel is my responsibility. Not because I don’t care, but because I respect the privacy of the families and children involved. I will only do what I hope anyone would do for me in this situation; love, offer support, and remember. Forget about gun control; that is something that should be discussed at any time, except now. Forget about religion; not in the sense of belief and prayer, but the fact that pushing a religious agenda right now is completely inappropriate and disrespectful. Most of all, forget about the shooter, he is not important, nor should he ever be. His name should be forgotten and I refuse to mention his name in this article. Instead, remember Sandy Hook Elementary, remember the parents of these children, remember the faculty who did their best to save the children, remember the emergency response teams, and remember the heroes.
But most of all, remember the children.