You've seen it on social media. Perhaps even posted some commentary yourself. The politicization of Newtown happened quickly, a backflip from event to response with nary a moment for doubt or reflection. People leapt to their favored societal solution. Pronouncements came swiftly, loudly. Normally, I'm a fan of the feisty exchange of ideas and the more political, the better. I understand the comfort that comes from certitude, from having the answer. But since Newtown, I'm not in that place.
Let me stipulate yes. Yes, we need better gun laws in our country. Yes, politicians are quite unlikely to devise any--especially in this moment--that are effective rather than merely reactive. Yes, we need a better mental health network for our most troubled. Yes, no system will be capable of anticipating the next yet-to-break sociopath. Yes, our media culture plays a role in making the next off-kilter personality want to be bigger, badder, more notorious than the last. Yes, we need more armed security guards in soft target places like schools. Yes, violent video games distort the thinking of our youth. Yes, it's unreasonable to assume we can kill a million babies a year in the womb and not expect that to have an impact on how we regard life outside the womb. Yes, divorce can tip a typical kid to troubled and a troubled one to dangerous. Yes, yes, yes. Whatever your favored cause, I stipulate that it is both wholly correct and also a true lie in the way that any judgment about such a situation would be.
Frankly, I can't stand to read any of it. To me, it reduces the people of Newtown and their loss to a utilitarian purpose, the advancing of an agenda. I understand those posting their issue statements view their opinions differently, as a path to prevention. I understand people process trauma in a variety of ways. I understand that what people post is their way of getting through the day. But since Newtown, I'm not in that place.
Since Newtown, I'm on social media because my cousin Sue is. My cousin Sue works as a Children's Director for a Newtown church. Prior to that, she taught at Sandy Hook School. Sue was born, raised and married in Newtown. She raises her own two children there. Social media is where she is posting her thoughts and reactions, so I'm wading through the rest of what's on the news feed to be close to Sue and her brothers and sisters living in that area.
I'm with Sue when she reaches into her closet for a church outfit, looking for something appropriately somber while saving her black clothes for the funerals later in the week. I'm with her as she agonizes over whether to leave the church's kid check-in sheet with Ben's name on it, which seems awful, or to run a new one without it, which seems worse. I'm with her as she teaches the lesson on Sunday morning and a child looks up and simply says, "My friends are dead."
We're all with Sue, aren't we? Our entire country is from Newtown this week. Still, the memes on Facebook turn from impassioned to harsh as we seek to assign blame to gun-owners or to the godless or to whomever. We haven't even buried the babies yet. I wish I could actually be with Sue. I can't, but I pray for her constantly and for everyone in her town. Her updates are how I know what to pray. I don't have answers, but I have access to the one who is the Answer. But since Newtown, even imagining I'm where Sue is proves too loud a place.
Mostly my mind goes to a closet with seven children in it. Kids whose teacher told them to stay put and stay quiet. Kids who heard their teacher try to divert the bad guy to another part of the school. Kids who watched six of their friends make a break for it and not make it. Kids who even after their classmates and their teacher and the gunman were no more, stayed hidden and silent, just like their teacher told them. Kids who stayed so quiet for so long that police were surprised to find them when they opened the closet during their sweep of the school.
It's a dreadfully quiet place. But since Newtown, that's where I am.
About the Author: Holly Ramsey is a writer and homeschool mom of five living in Naperville, IL. You can read her blog at fromdiaperstodriversed.blogspot.com.