I was grateful to see President Obama on television this evening speaking at the Memorial Service in Newtown, Connecticut. I felt that the members of that community and the country needed to hear the President acknowledge that the horror of the massacre at Sandy Hook Elementary is a shared sorrow. In the President’s comments he referred to the nation’s children as “our” children. He spoke to the notion that childrens’ well-being is a shared responsibility that extends beyond their parents and beyond their schools. All politics aside, I think that was a critical message to share.
As a society we want good things for the future, and as such we must foster the healthy development and proper care-taking of “our” children. And when “our” children need help – whether it is with learning, behavioral issues, physical challenges, mental health struggles, etc. – we are behooved to help them. I believe that is how it should be.
Adam Lanza was “our” child. Clearly, Adam needed help. Somewhere along the line Adam didn’t get all the help he needed to allow him to function in society the way he needed to. The failure with this child resulted in the loss of 20 other children, six adults who sought to protect the children, his mother, and the child himself.
This tragedy tapped into a spot of dread in parents’ hearts everywhere…parents who thought in the moment – but for the grace of God there go I. And there were some parents who thought in the moment – but for the grace of God that could be my child who struggles with mental health issues acting out violently. What it should do though, as the President spoke to, is cause us all to ask ourselves if we are doing all the things we should be doing for “our” children.
Are we ensuring that the necessary mental health resources are out there to help the children and families that need help? Are we taking the necessary steps to keep children safe? Are we taking the necessary care of “our” children to help protect against tragedies such as this?
Or, do we look upon strife with children from other families or other neighborhoods and think to ourselves – thank goodness that’s not my kid! Do we rationalize our right as regular citizens to own semi-automatic weapons even though they clearly cannot be justified as a sport or household protection weapon? Do we complain about taxes that help fund mental health programs for those who lack adequate health care insurance? Do we cut corners rather than create environments that, while more costly, lean toward greater safety? Do we ask our legislators to fund research that helps expand understanding about the fundamental ways that technology is changing the way the younger generations’ brains process information (read iBrain for a great discussion of this)? Do we really take the necessary care to help protect “our” children from such tragedies?
I don’t think we do enough. What will we do to protect “our” children moving forward? It is time for us to have that discussion.
Day one thousand two hundred and fifty-eight of the new forty – obla di obla da