Every since the tragedy in Newtown, Connecticut on Friday, people everywhere have been looking for answers. Why would someone go to an elementary school and slaughter 20 children and six teachers? What kind of heartless person could do such a thing? Speculation is all over the spectrum as to why. But, in reality, we may never know why this tragedy occurred. We can never know exactly what was going on inside the head of the killer. We can never know what his thought process was in the hours and days leading up to this brutal event. Because we don’t know these things, we start to speculate: He must have been mentally ill. It was his mother’s fault. It was his father’s fault. It was everyone else’s fault. It’s the gun’s fault. It’s the violent video games and the violent movies. It’s the lyrics to songs. It’s because we no longer allow prayer in school. He did this because he did not have God in his life. He didn’t accept Jesus as his savior. Pick one, anyone and there is the reason this tragedy occurred. But it isn’t.
The finger-pointing started as soon as the news broke about these events. There is always finger-pointing. We are a nation of finger pointers. That’s what we have become. Blame everyone else except ourselves. We are all responsible for this tragedy. Every single citizen of this nation is responsible. From the mother who doesn’t lock-up her fire arms to the congressman who votes to de-fund mental illness programs to the preacher who says we are a Godless nation. The next door neighbor who turns a blind eye to arguing he or she hears every night. The teacher who gives a child a pass because he or she does not want to deal with a problem student anymore. It is the doctor and nurses fault because they decided to sign discharge papers for someone who should not be out on the street. It is my fault and it is your fault.
We have a problem in this country. The problem is not just about gun control or funding for mental illness. The problem goes deeper than that. No longer are we taking responsibility for our actions. No longer are we opening the doors to help our neighbor who feels threatened by a son or daughter or spouse. We are so wrapped up in our own lives and our own problems that we no longer see that the problems of our neighbors are our problems too. The result is the tragedy of Sandy Hook. We, as a nation, have become immune to these mass killings. After one occurs, we say we want stricter gun control, but there is no follow through. We say there needs to be better help for those with mental illness, but we cut funding and as soon as the next thing happens, we forget about Columbine and Virginia Tech. But, this time is different. This time, we can no longer ignore the problem. This time, the killer struck where he has never struck before. He took our innocence. He took our children.
If this tragedy does not wake people up, nothing will. People want stricter gun control laws. But, people don’t want their guns taken away from them. Well, it’s time to decide: Which will it be? It is now time to make some hard decisions. If people want their guns, they have to accept that Sandy Hook, Aurora, Tuscon, Columbine, Virginia will keep happening. It may even get worse. How many times does someone use the gun he or she keeps in the house to protect the family from an intruder? How many times does a child find mom and dad’s gun and accidentally kill their friend or themselves? Do hunters really need a machine gun to kill a deer? There has to be a limit. There has to be strict new laws about gun ownership. This cannot happen again.
However, this goes beyond just guns. This goes to the treatment of the mentally ill. It’s a sad state when those who have psychological illness can only get the treatment they need when they are in prison. This nation must address the millions who have some kind of mental illness and thousands that could pose a threat to their family and loved ones. Throwing them in jail is not the answer. Closing mental health clinics is not the answer. Making a person wait six months for a bed to open at a mental health hospital is not the answer either. But, this must be addressed. How many people out there live everyday in a cloud of mental illness? How many people can barely function on a day-to-day basis because their brain is telling them something that goes against what their heart is telling them? We must enact and better fund programs to help the mentally ill. This must start at the very beginning, in kindergarten. Schools must be given the proper training and facilities and tools to deal with troubled students in an effective way so student, teacher, parent and community feel as though they are all getting an education and dealing with and treating the problem.
The reason these tragedies keep happening is because we, as a nation, are only putting a band-aid on a more serious injury. We are not willing to make the hard decisions that must be made to stop this epidemic from continuing. We will mourn for those who lose their lives and their families and next week they will be forgotten. We will not move ahead with the kind of reforms that must be made, until it happens again; and we will ask the same questions again. Maybe, instead of asking the questions, we start looking for the answers.