Sunday, December 16, 2012

Reflecting on Newtown

Usually, it's so easy to post my thoughts, but the events of the past two days leave me with feelings of helplessness and confusion on so many levels. Even with CNN's excellent coverage, the more I watch, the more questions I have. How many of those questions will ever be given satisfactory answers?

Googling this town's name (which most people didn't even know until Friday morning), I learned that "the population was 27,560 at the 2010 census." CNN reported yesterday that the town had a single murder in the past decade. Even the official Newtown website (www.newtown-ct.gov) conveys a reassuring orderliness. It's almost Thornton Wilder's Our Town come to real life.

Small towns like this, and the schools within their municipal limits, seem to be the last hold-outs of old Main Street America, and what we more urban, sometimes world-weary folks nostalgically view as archetypes of safety and innocence. Any cherished, idealized views remaining in our collective consciousness seem to have been further compromised, if not forever.

I join in the mourning for Newtown, Connecticut. This town was tragically robbed of twenty children who were the future's promise. Also lost were six heroic educators, who, in the heat of the emergency, displayed the highest possible form of dedication to their students.

And what of the reported gunman, Adam Lanza and his mother? Aside from the observations that he was smart, a loner, and by some accounts, "troubled," what crucial problems slipped by unnoticed--or dismissed? If Adam was indeed diagnosed with autism, Asperger's, or a form of schizophrenia, what was being done to treat and support him?

I don't know how such a goal is to be accomplished, but this would be where communities could become another layer of oversight and support for individuals, families, and schools. Perhaps becoming one's "brother's keeper" needs to become a renewed mandate, even if such efforts might be perceived as intrusive. As I type that last sentence, I'm aware of how such a thing might be construed, especially in a country where we (including myself) cherish individual rights and privacy. My thoughts on this are still in process, and will appear in a subsequent post--so give me time to take a breath and formulate them.

Since the news of the shooting broke on Friday, we all seem to have gone into a determined search for meaning. So many experts, including those in criminology and forensic psychiatry, are grappling right along with the rest of us. To repair our sense of security, possible solutions are being put out there -- including gun control, temporary armed personnel at the Sandy Hook School, mental health resources. I have a great deal to say about the last one in particular, and am preparing for a follow-up in the next day or so.

Till then, I wish to join the world in offering my deepest condolences to everyone in Newtown, especially those who lost loved ones on Friday at Sandy Hook School. May the world's love draw around you in the days ahead.



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