Saturday, December 15, 2012
In It Together
Yesterday, as I was playing around on Facebook, avoiding the necessary shower, I started to notice the world went quiet. We don't have TV. If the world blows up, I anticipate my husband will give me a call from work--if he has heard. So, eventually I started to recognize that something was going on, and went to a news site. I, like everyone else, was shoved deep into the tragedy in Connecticut.
Unlike everyone else, apparently, I read through the story one time, on one website, and I walked away.
I do not want anyone to think I'm not deeply moved by this senseless massacre. I know the grief of these parents who will, alongside myself and countless others, have a tearful Christmas this year. I know they are destroyed. I know this is the worst thing that can happen to a family.
My issue, with which I've been grappling for 24 hours, is the way we are so often sucked into these stories. Why? Why do we sit, glued to the television, staring at the tragedy of others?
Some would say that it's because our country is falling apart. That year after year, massacres such as this are multiplying. It all started with Columbine.
Not so. Every year for decades--DECADES--there have been approximately 20 massacres of similar magnitude inside the United States. 20. No, that's not a good number. Yes, it's disgusting. But it's not happening every day at every school in America.
Some would say that the death toll is overwhelming.
Not really, all things considered. Approximately 150 people die of massacres every year. That's a very small number in comparison to the 17,000 who die from homicides of any type every year. Both these numbers are down from previous years.
So what is different? The media attention.
When a crazed man walks into a school and takes 28 lives, the newspapers and television stations show up like locusts to a plague. For months we will watch as experts dissect the events of yesterday, pondering exactly what could have been done to stop this senselessness. But nothing can be done. If it could, we'd have done it.
When 28 people die in a schoolhouse, we are made to feel like we can do something.
But when 26,000 children are stillborn each year, when one in four women cry for the children they lost...no one talks about it. When it's happening to everyone, it's not news. When it happens every single day, no one can profit from the story. When it affects millions, not dozens, suddenly nothing can be done.
No one was glued to the screen when my son died.
So what is the point to my story here? Obviously the loss these families suffered was an impossible one from which they will never recover. I will not deny them that. But I will not drown in their story. I will not stare at the screen, lapping up every detail. Because I know that every day, many unknown, unspoken families grieve for the same thing--the loss of their sweet children. And as members of this tragic club, we are charged with one thing: to stick together. Let the media and politicians debate over what could be done. We know that only one thing is to be done. We must help each other remember our babies, and love each other as brothers and sisters in loss. The notoriety will fail, the support will falter, but we must not. Let none of those among us ever forget that we are all in this together.