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Not every mentally-ill person is violent. Not every gun is used to kill first-graders, principals and teachers. Evil is, has always been and will always be with us. Our hearts were broken, our breath sucked away and we were left completely helpless when mental illness, weapons and evil combined at 9:30 a.m. Friday, Dec. 14, at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn.
We struggle as we put ourselves in the place of those parents and family members who were confronted with the news that their 6- or 7-year-old child, the heroic principal, teacher, psychiatrist and faculty members were lifeless on the school’s floor. Many of their bodies were shot as much as 11 times. And it was just 11 days before Christmas – the time of the year we celebrate peace and the greatest gift of love.
Our overwhelming sadness begets the questions. How? Why? Then anger sets in. Gun opponents and proponents tout their views in such a compelling manner that only their view is the answer to preventing more carnage.
As a nation we’ve neglected the mentally ill. We’ve reduced funding for assistance, closed facilities or reduced the number of people in them. Ask anyone who has a family member with mental illness and let them tell you about the struggles they have trying to get help for their loved ones. The Sandy Hook Elementary School shooter Adam Lanza’s mother, Nancy Lanza, was devoted to her troubled son. But she, too, was killed by Adam. Many of the mentally ill are homeless and walk the streets alone. Many are in prison. Oftentimes they are just given mind-altering drugs.
Constant violence is in our everyday lives. It’s in our songs, our movies and video games. Our children grow up in this environment. And it’s hard for them to differentiate between the make believe and reality.
These issues are fodder for discussion. And we need to discuss them. Discuss not demand. We need debate – calm, intelligent, logical debate with open-minded conversation.
Don’t get us wrong, there is good in the world. There are good people. That’s evident in America, in South Carolina and even Lancaster County. And we’ve touted the good deeds of local folks in our paper.
But when evil like this is so prevalent, it takes center stage. And it needs to be addressed through problem-solving and thought-provoking conversation.
For now, let’s focus on the loved ones left to grieve. Let’s support them, encourage them and listen to them.
Then let’s focus on resolving the reasons for this evil.
And as hard as it is to imagine, let’s focus on restoring peace.