Even though I am childless, two of my personal VIP's are less than four years old (children of close friends). Contemplating the loss of either or both of them in the way that 20-something families lost children on Friday is more than I can comprehend. For the first time since 911 I looked into the void of my own grief and saw no end to it.
How incredibly sweet was the fragrance of the 14 month old's hair that afternoon. I had never been more grateful to just be with this child. As we "read" the same pages of the same book over and over I turned away from even the notion of such a loss. Even my best emotional defense, over-thinking, was no match for what happened in that morning in Newtown.
I would not turn in that direction emotionally, as if merely contemplating the possibility of the loss would change me in ways I am not ready for.
"Thank God you're here" was my soliloquy, whispered, all afternoon.
It is incredible to me how much we all rely on each other to behave well. If one person wants to kill numbers of innocent people, or do unspeakably cruel things to children in a random fashion, there's little in the way of actual physical barriers to doing so. A person can freely go to a school, or a movie theater, or a church, with a legally-purchased high-speed killing machine and simply pull the trigger. In a minute or two, much can change.
It happens in Afghanistan, in Mexico, in Brazil, in Congo, on every continent. Parents discover during the course of one day that their children, whom they scolded that morning for leaving clothes outside the hamper, were killed at school.
It's true, guns don't kill people.
But, we act as if we don't really understand that people do kill people. Since people do kill people, we should make it really hard for people to get guns. If there's one safe conclusion to be drawn from mankind's recorded history since the advent of firearms, it is that if people have guns, people are going to use them to kill people.
People die in, and being struck by, cars. We make it sort of hard to get a car. You have to get trained to use it, be in good health and free of dangerous disability in order to drive it, you have to register it, display a unique identifying tag on it, and get it inspected regularly. When you sell it, you have to do so publicly and pay taxes on the transaction to pay for the registration, safety and tracking system.
For some reason, people believe that if we did the same for firearms something important would be lost.
Whatever that is, you can have it.