Ever since the news broke on Friday morning about the awful tragedy in Newtown, I haven’t been able to find the words to write here or elsewhere.
The world has had twenty beautiful, innocent children taken from our world well before their time and I can’t get their faces out of their minds. Yesterday at the basketball court, they were standing before me getting ready to join my son in a game of scrimmage. Today at Hebrew School, they were standing in the corner, clueless that their lives were about to be senselessly cut short.
As I look at and embrace my own children harder in these days after the tragedy, my heart is broken for these parents. I think of the moments they were waiting for their children to come out of school and then taken to the nearby firehouse with the National Guard to be told their children were never coming home. I think of the last moment they each said good bye to their children that morning, not knowing it would be their last. I imagine them sitting alone at home in their children’s rooms, with their faces in their hands, crying for the child they have raised for the last six years. For the child they will not get to see grow up.
And I think of the children who witnessed the murder of their friends and teachers and I wonder how they will set foot into that school, or any school, again. They are too young, too innocent to know that such evil spirits can exist in our world.
We should not have to worry about sending our children to school. School is supposed to be a safe haven where our children learn and flourish until they are old enough to leave home.
We have a problem. A HUGE problem. If our government does not see that NOW and send out a message loud and clear that these weapons can not be made available to anyone and everyone, it will only get bigger. It feels like America is turning into a war zone and we can no longer feel safe. We need to follow by example, from the likes of Australia and England, who have cracked down on gun control. Even China, where a similar attack occurred on Friday, has stricter laws the perpetrator was using a knife. 9,000 people were killed with guns last year in the United States and 170 were killed in Germany, in Canada 50.
According to CNN, the United States has, by far, the highest rate of gun ownership in the world, with 88.8 guns per 100 people, followed by Serbia (58.2), Yemen (54.8) and Finland/Switzerland (45.7 each), according to GunPolicy.org, an international database at the University of Sydney.
My husband gently told my children about the event on Friday night, but in very A, B, C/non-specific terms. We were not asked a lot of questions, as I don’t think they were fully informed and our only goal was to make them aware in case the topic came up outside our home.
When we headed to synagogue yesterday morning, they no idea that I needed comfort. I wanted to hear the words of my Rabbi, he always sheds light on bad situations. My son has sensory issues and it was one of those days where he would not separate from us. When the Rabbi began his sermon, I worried about what my son would hear but the Rabbi didn’t say anything specific about the killings. Instead, he tried to shed light on our need to go on.
He said that it’s very easy to ask, “Where was G-d during the shooting?” to our long list of unanswered questions. It’s a common question, particularly amongst Jews. Many people asked where G-d was during the Holocaust and how he allowed the murder of 6,000,000 people. While this is a tragedy on a smaller scale, it is pure evil and brings out the same questions.
It is important not to give up on our beliefs during this time of grieving, he said. In darkness, there is light. There were teachers and a beloved principal who tried to protect the children, and though they died in the process, they are heroes. There are survivors who need the strength to go on. There are families who need their religious beliefs to hold them together. It is not time to give up on what we hold so close to our hearts.
He talked about lighting the menorah last night on the last night of Hanukkah and lighting the 8 candles in the children’s memory to keep them in our hearts forever. We must never forget them. As I watch the parents talk about their children and express their undying love for their children and how proud they are of their children, I am overwrought with compassion as they say they are not mad at the killer’s family. The dad of Emile Parker, age 6, said, “The world is a better place because Emilie was in it.” Watch the video here:
There are truly no words right now. I am that mom who has never let her kids play with toy guns and am vehemently anti-gun. Today Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) said that she plans to introduce an assault weapons ban bill on the first day of the new Congress:
“It will ban the sale, the transfer, the importation and the possession, not retroactively, but prospectively,” and ban the sale of clips of more than ten bullets, Feinstein said. “The purpose of this bill is to get… weapons of war off the streets.”
The time is NOW to get guns out of the wrong people’s hands. Hopefully, the conversation will turn into REAL action and we will not have to live in fear of our children walking out the door and never coming back into our arms.
May the souls of those lost on Friday night continue to burn bright.