The tragedy of last week’s mass shooting in Newtown, Connecticut, has rocked the entire nation to the core. Mere words seem inadequate at a time like this to express the sorrow and horror we all feel after the slaying of so many innocent people.
As the President said, our hearts are indeed broken for the lives that were cut short. And at the same time our hearts go out to the families of those who were slain, and to that entire community.
We’re all affected by this tragedy in unique and individual ways–while at the same time we are united in our grief. Like so many other parents, I thought about my children and their classmates who were in school that day, engaged in the simple but hard work of growing their minds and bodies to prepare for their futures, futures that we as parents pray will allow them to live out fulfilling and happy lives. The notion that some evil might befall them in that sanctuary, and deny them that basic right, is beyond reason and beyond understanding and makes the loss of those young lives at Sandy Hook Elementary all the more difficult to comprehend.
I was heading to deer camp in Mississippi when I heard the news. Deer camp is another sanctuary of sorts, a place where friends and family gather to renew the bonds of camaraderie and fellowship while celebrating our love of the outdoors. Guns and hunting, of course, are central to deer camp and, as an outdoorsman, the fact that firearms were turned to such abhorrent ends in these killings added another layer of sorrow on my heart. Speaking with my friends and family who also hunt and shoot, I know they feel this as well.
There’s no yardstick by which we can take measure of the evil that was perpetrated in Newtown. What happened was so outside the boundaries of normal life that we are left with no satisfactory answer to the question we’re all asking, which is: Why?
This is a perfectly natural, and human, reflex. But the truth is, there will never be an adequate answer because such an answer would be based on rational thought and logic and, put simply, the actions of the killer were beyond reason.
There will be plenty of time in the weeks and months ahead to discuss the factors that played a role in this tragedy and to engage in a dialogue about the potential remedies we as a nation might consider.
But that’s not what we should be doing right now while still deep in the grip of the shock and sadness over these slayings. Right now is the time to reach out to those who were directly affected by this terrible event and offer them our compassion, our shared sense of loss, and our unconditional love.