We have traveled this journey into heartbreak too many times already.
From a crowded theater in Aurora, Colo., to a holiday-filled mall in Portland, Ore., to a university campus in Blacksburg, Va., senseless acts of violence continue to haunt our American people.
And the questions always are the same. Why? What caused it to happen? What could twist the human mind so incredibly to lead to such acts of barbarism?
We wish we had the answers. Sadly, we do not.
Like anyone else, we harbor our suspicions. While none would be considered powerful enough to lead to such violence singlehandledly, together they constitute a lethal force under the right conditions.
We refer to a growing dysfunction within too many U.S. families.
We refer to a reckless video game industry whose countless programs of violence and unforgivable bloodshed are passing for accepted entertainment while influencing the impressionable minds of young users.
We refer to a growing lack of value, and respect, toward the sanctity of human life.
We refer to a TV and movie industry where nonstop acts of violence are now the rule and no longer the exception.
We refer to our own brethren within most ranks of the news media who repeatedly assault readers, viewers and listeners with all that is negative and little that is uplifting to the spirit, the heart and the mind.
We refer to a growing absence of control and parental involvement in the lives of our young people.
We refer to day-to-day societal pressures like fitting in with the crowd, intolerance, overnight success, material possessions and perhaps the most fundamental — a desire to be liked, accepted and appreciated.
We refer to unrelenting stress — at work, at school, at play, in the community and at home.
We refer to emotional duress compounded by feelings of hopelessness.
As in the past, and as is now, Friday’s senseless act in Newtown is leading to renewed debate on one of America’s most inconvenient truths — guns, their proliferation and their accessibility.
One side will argue guns kill people.
One side will argue guns don’t do the killing, people do.
One side will argue the constitutionally protected right to bear arms.
One side will argue the worsening epidemic of violent deaths across our nation orchestrated by the pull of a trigger.
Each is an argument heard long. Each is testimony heard loudly. Each will be sounded again and again and again. The outcry assuredly will worsen with each act of rage perpetrated by one human being against another.
Yet is some form of gun control — at whatever level eventually negotiated by our elected leaders — the answer? It is one, but we fear the roots nurturing man’s violence against man run much deeper.
Guns are the tool. But society is the weapon.
Until we come to grips with ourselves and our mounting pressures in life — many of which we created — it is unlikely that significant change can come. But let none doubt. This is not a white flag of surrender. This is a red flag of warning.
Losing the innocent smiles of these 20 precious little ones is heartbreaking. Knowing that six educators died in gallant acts to protect them is heartwrenching. Realizing that a mother and her lost son will take untold answers to their graves is disconcerting.
So we suggest this.
Start at the beginning.
Look within. And look with conviction. Resolve to be part of the solution, not a perpetuation of the problem. Take it one step at a time — person by person, family by family, community by community.
Society can change, but only for the willing.
Many reasons point to this need. Let us begin with the first 28.