Thingish Things

Will We Ever Understand Sandy Hook?

Written By: William F. B. O'Reilly - Dec• 15•12

Newsday_logoWould anyone harboring thoughts of shooting up an elementary school or otherwise hurting children please, please, please identify yourselves now.

In your next moment of clarity, knock on the door of your local police station, ring up a psychiatrist — put an email or Facebook blast out to friends and relatives before you can change your mind exclaiming, “I need help and I need it now.”

We promise not to judge you too harshly. We will thank you for your honesty and get you the help you need.

Just please don’t go through with what you’re thinking. We cannot bear it.

If you can’t find the strength to turn yourself in, and you’re definitely going to do something terrible, handcuff yourself to the nearest post and throw away the key. We will sincerely appreciate it. What one man and several guns did at a Sandy Hook Elementary School on Friday was as terrible an act as anything we’ve ever seen, meaner even than 9/11 in some sense.

To murder bright, beautiful kindergarten children in cold blood — 6-year-olds — is the purest of evil. It was an incomprehensibly wicked deed that will mar the collective consciousness of this country for years to come.

I don’t know how the parents of the children taken in Sandy Hook — in the middle of Hanukkah and 11 days before Christmas — ever get over this. How can they ever make sense of it? How will the families of the teachers killed Friday recover?

The only sensible words that come to mind were those spoken by Robert F. Kennedy in Indianapolis the night of April 4, 1968, when news of Martin Luther King Jr.‘s assassination came in. Kennedy consoled grieving Americans by speaking of the pain he felt losing his brother, former President John F. Kennedy, to a gunman. “My favorite poet was Aeschylus,” Kennedy said. “He once wrote: ‘Even in our sleep, pain which cannot forget falls drop by drop upon the heart, until, in our own despair, against our will, comes wisdom through the awful grace of God.’ “

All we can do as Americans today and tomorrow is pray that the grace and wisdom comes to those who need it as soon and as completely as possible.

These massacres are now commonplace. And like with Columbine, Virginia Tech, Aurora, Binghamton, and the Oregon shopping mall this week, we are left to ask why.


Why are shooting rampages occurring more and more often and with increasing cruelty? How can we not see the true nature of these latent killers in advance? Were there some warning signs we could have recognized? Or is this just inevitable with the number of guns out there? Is it television and video game violence; the loss of spirituality and organized religion among young people — is it psychotropic drugs? The worst part is that there are no answers. There never have been in instances like these. Only heartache and suffering on one of the saddest days in American history.

This article is available at Newsday Westchester and Newsday.  

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