I decided to take a break from the Elf on the Shelf blog posts today. Cadence woke this morning and found Cosette in the middle of her usual shenanigans, and then the news broke of the tragedy that was taking place in Newtown, Connecticut and everything else was put on the back burner. Today, I listened to the reports and watched the events unfold, praying for the families and the children who were, at that very moment, finding themselves trapped in a nightmare. I hugged Cadence close, and thanked God that we were here, together, safe in our home.

Eventually, after putting Cadence down for her nap, and absorbing the news, I felt the need to say something. With all of the reports coming in and people speculating and making comments about the events that were unfolding in front of our eyes, I just wanted to take a moment to add my two cents. I posted this on my Facebook wall, and decided that, tonight, I wanted to post it here as well. It’s just something I want to get off my chest…

Okay, I don’t want to make it seem like I’m getting up on my soapbox here, but when I feel something very strongly, I make a point to say it. I don’t have all the answers. No one does. But I think the worst thing we can ever do is to stay silent, because silence has a way of leaving open a space for misunderstanding and misconception and hard feelings and division.

In the wake of a tragedy like the shooting today in Sandy Hook, you’re going to see and hear a lot of anger. Some people will cry for the banning of guns, while others will argue that more citizens need to be armed. People will gather their torches and pitchforks and go after movies and music and violent video games, while others will adamantly deny that the media or pop culture had anything to do with what happened at Sandy Hook Elementary School, or Columbine, or the theater in Aurora, Colorado. Some people will be quick to blame the schools, the teachers, the administrators, while others will sling hatred at the perpetrator and his family.

The truth is, there is no black and white here. We’re all just swimming in a sea of gray. The shooter is dead, which means we will likely never know for sure what made him commit such a heinous act. There will be speculation. And there may even be a little bit of truth sprinkled in all the guesswork and the conjecture and the lies.

What I do know for sure is that this makes me sick to my stomach. But honestly, as scary as the world is, we can’t cocoon ourselves or our children from it. We can’t just bubblewrap ourselves and our kids and keep bad things from every happening to us or bad people from ever hurting us. Pain, tragedy, and heartache are a part of life, just as much as joy and happiness. I think the most important thing to do, in times like these, is take the opportunity to teach each other, and to teach our children–show them the difference between right and wrong, show them that for all the bad things and bad people in the world, there is a whole lot of good too. The only way we can ever truly combat the evil in this world is by not feeding into it. Where there is darkness, we must shine our lights. And where there is sadness, we must focus our attention and do what we can do bring comfort.

I think that a lot of people have become desensitized to violence because they truly see it as entertainment. They watch violent TV shows and movies without really thinking about or analyzing what they’re seeing. We see footage of wars and violent revolutions happening in foreign countries. We watch devastating storms wiping out entire neighborhoods here in our own country. And yet, somehow, it doesn’t sink in. It doesn’t quite register because it is not happening to us. It is not affecting us. Not really.

I do not believe that banning movies or music or games or even the news, or completely cutting ourselves or our children off from them is the right answer. So much can be learned from all of it, if we take the time dive in and do the work. The way I see it, the movies/music/games/tv shows/headlines of our time tell us about ourselves–our fears, our beliefs, our morals (or lack of). If we take the time to talk to our children about what they’re seeing/experiencing and use media to help teach them important lessons about morality and making good choices and loving other people and treating them humanely, then we are fighting a good fight. Sheltering children and sequestering ourselves can often be just as dangerous running free without supervision or consequences or conscience. It’s a fine line to walk, but it’s our job as parents.

It is our job as human beings.

People spend a lot of time asking, “Who am I? Why am I here?” It’s a valid question. It’s important for each of us to have a goal and a purpose. Yet, perhaps it’s time to start asking, “Who are we? And why are we here?” We’re all human, after all, in spite of our myriad differences. We’ve spent so much time trying to separate ourselves, trying to define our individuality, and look where it has taken us. I think it’s time for us to come together, to find the common ground, to help, to heal, and to realize, once and for all, that we are not in this alone.


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