Years ago I decided that no two brains are wired the same way. I know DNA influences and that nurture is often more powerful than nature. I also know that we’re each responsible for our own choices. I’m not sure where mental illness leaves off and evil takes over, but I got new clues last Friday as I watched the coverage of the massacre at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, CT.
Like everyone, I’m deeply saddened. The inspiration I found in this horribly grim tragedy came from a line spoken by the late Mr. Rogers, who told children, “When there is a tragedy, look at the helpers.” Those are the people that give us hope.
The firefighters and other first-responders inspire us not only with the care they give, but with the way they shared their disbelief.
The police and coroners inspired us as they searched for clues and motives and answered questions despite exhaustion.
The parents of those left behind continue to inspire us as they protect their children and share age-appropriate information. The parents who lost their precious, beautiful children inspire us as they struggle to cope.
The teachers who blocked bullets with their own bodies are an inspiration. So are the religious leaders who could not find words to console. They made us feel less inadequate about our own inability to comprehend the excruciating loss.
A psychologist and grandfather found three young boys huddled on his lawn. “We can’t go back to school,” they said. “Our teacher’s dead.” He got them snacks and toys, and then he called their parents. Similar scenes happened at the firehouse and other places we don’t know about. Helpers don’t always make the news.
The reporters who shared the story with the world and treated the subjects with genuine sympathy and compassion are also heroes. They’re trying to inform us with sensitivity and respect. As time passes, they’ll share more researched information about mental illness, strange behavior, and gun control.
There must be countless heroes we will never hear about—siblings, cousins, doctors, nurses, babysitters, psychologists, grief counselors, and those who want to give the kids a few hours of normalcy are some of them. So are a Governor, a President, and the people from Oregon who sent 26 wreathes to the Newton Firehouse.
Everyone who pays attention and engages in dialogue about solutions is a hero, even if they’ve never been near Newton and don’t know any of the victims. So are the parents and grandparents around the country who hug their children a little tighter and say “I love you” a little more often.
Comprehending the enormity of this massacre is still nearly impossible. The helpers humanize it one person at a time. They give their best in the face of incomprehensible loss.
If you want to be part of the solution, here are a couple of links suggesting ways you can help:
- How to Send Condolences to Newtown, CT, courtesy of the Beaufort Observer
- Ways to Help Newtown, CT, courtesy of the Kent Patch
What would you say to the people in Newtown, CT?