On the Atrocity at Sandy Hook Elementary School

December 14, 2012

The horror of today’s shooting at the elementary school in Newtown, Connecticut is too extreme to be expressed in words, so I will not try. I know that we all are profoundly affected. Children, and not only the children at the school, will be traumatized by the event. News media will be obsessed with these events for several weeks, perhaps justifiably so, and the exposure of children to the constant and macabre details that emerge will need to be monitored.

As the president noted in his briefing, mass shootings by the solitary gunman are happening at an intolerable frequency, and I pray that his promise that concrete action to prevent further atrocities will be fulfilled. The forthcoming discussion will probably include a look at ways of banning assault weapons and restricting gun ownership by mentally unstable individuals, as well as drawing attention to the limited availability of competent mental health treatment. I wonder if and when we will ever look at the fact that these shootings are nearly always committed by males. Certainly not all men are violent, but the role of male socialization in creating violence will have to be addressed at some point if we are ever to live in a peaceful world.

In rural America we tend to think of violence, particularly violence from strangers, particularly violence on a massive scale, as being an urban problem. We need to break through the tendency to isolate ourselves from the idea of violence occurring where we live in order to address the problem on a cohesive level.