There are no words that can ever adequately console the parents, family, classmates, Sandy Hook Elementary School Community, and the entire community of Newtown, Connecticut as they face the grievous aftermath of Friday’s shooting which resulted in the tragic and untimely deaths of 20 children and 6 adults, not to mention the children, teachers, and school personnel who survived with their lives.
The country is stunned that this could happen in an elementary school, and rightly so. We should be stunned that it could happen there, and we should be stunned when it happens anywhere, whether it is in our schools, universities, our streets, or our homes.
Presently, the country is engaged in a national conversation about this tragedy in Connecticut, and it’s an important discussion. The survivors and the community of Newtown, Connecticut will be forever changed by this terrible violence, in ways that many of us cannot even begin to fathom. It is essential that some meaning be made of this. We must keep the victims and survivors in our hearts and minds, because they will live with this tragedy, recalling it over and over again for years to come, as they try to find some peace and put the pieces back together.
We must move beyond the academic, and arrive at a deeper analysis of what we believe about violence, and commit ourselves to be part of the solution in our own large or small way. Let’s begin to ask and answer honestly why and how did this happen? Could this happen on Cape Cod? Could this unspeakable event have been prevented? What should we be doing to prevent something like this in our community? Are there conditions that foster violence? Is violence a learned behavior? What is our community doing and indeed our national agenda for preventing violence in all its manifestations? What’s our plan?
I do not believe violence will spontaneously disappear, but it can be prevented. We must pursue the prevention of violence with intention, with every fiber of our being, and with a vision to end it, regardless of who is perpetrating it, or who the victims are. Every group, every individual, has an opinion on what causes violence, who perpetrates violence, who its victims are, and what the solution should or shouldn’t be.
I am clear about one thing that we all do agree on. Violence is bad, and it has profoundly negative effects on individuals and communities. Let’s start there.
“We may never be strong enough to be entirely non-violent in thought, word and deed. But, we must keep non-violence as our goal and make strong progress towards it.” … Mahatma Ghandi
Lysetta Hurge Putnam, MSW, LICSW
Executive Director, Independence House