Nothing softens my heart more than being with my two grandchildren who live nearby in Virginia. Aged nine and six they are full of fun, personality, affection and potential. I went to their school event to encourage reading, where the teacher asked first graders “What makes you Wonder?” Jake, six, put his hand up and said “I wonder if penguins dream?” His brother Connor said quietly, “I wonder about Physics.” My heart melted at their innocence and depth. Kids are all special when you know them.
The children in Newtown were like that. Their parents and siblings were tuned into their every vibe, aware of their hopes, joys and fears, responsive to their endearments. They shared accounts of their day, their meals, activities, friends and interests. They tucked them in at night with stories of reassurance. Now all that love and security is shattered and desecrated by the massacre of twenty children, six teachers and the gunman’s mother. There’s a painful gaping hole and grief in the hearts of those who lost a child and there’s a chasm to bridge for all those parents who hope to rebuild the survivors’ lives.
The sentiment I’ve felt and heard repeatedly from the public is “heartbreaking”.
School authorities were swift to respond. Jake and Connor are already performing Lock-down practice in case their school is invaded by a shooter. The teachers have obviously done this carefully, because the boys are taking it in their stride. They described how they would lock the door and hide. “How does that make you feel?” asked my daughter in law and Connor said, “It’s OK. We know what to do.” Jake was silent. I was speechless.
Bogeymen used to be imaginary and under the bed. Now the bogeyman comes looking for this generation with his superior fast-shooting repeater weapon, armed with enough bullets to shoot each little one a dozen times, rendering them irrecoverable.
There is an element of madness in such an attack. On Sunday the NRA voted to resist efforts to reform the gun laws and to defend their “rights”. Isn’t there an element of madness in that too?
I wonder if the world is well on its way to going crazy, and my heart breaks yet again.