|Sometimes there just aren't words. There is only compassion and connection.
Yesterday at work, I was unaware of the situation unfolding in Newtown, Ct and was stunned when I got home and watched the news. It brought back very vivid memories of the Columbine tragedy and for personal reasons. My daughter, had I not insisted she stay with me in Salt Lake, would have been attending Columbine High as her dad lived in Littleton. He called me during that afternoon, almost hysterical, to thank me for not letting our daughter move with him to Colorado. As he said, our daughter the debater, would have been in the library just like she was always in the library during lunch at her Salt Lake high school. She might be dead had she gone to Columbine--a fact that didn't escape her attention. It's a phone call I will never forget. It ended a lot of acrimony between the two of us. It was about a little healing in the midst of great tragedy. It was about two parents who saw death for their child closer than they wanted and both reconnected with what's actually important, and it wasn't their egos.
I have no idea what it must be like for the parents of the twenty children killed yesterday. I only have a little idea of what it's like for the parents of the children who survived yesterday. They will feel overwhelming relief and some guilt. Death did not come for their child for no better reason than death came for the children who were killed. It just is. It leaves one silent. There is nothing but prayer and compassion and long hugs and connection with those we love and love us.
As I was watching the coverage I was waiting with some dread for information on the shooter. In the back of my mind I already knew the answer. As in so many of these mass killings the shooter would be somewhere on the schizophrenic, autistic, asperger's scale. He would be socially inept, a loner, unable to connect or make friends and probably quirky smart, into video gaming where social skills are not an asset. Fellow students would in retrospect say they weren't surprised he was the shooter- and it's always a 'he'- because he was so weird and isolated in high school. And so I heard what I expected to hear. It wouldn't surprise me if in this killer's mind, he was acting out his anger and frustration around the very first place where he knew on a fundamental level and with out any doubt, that he was not going to fit. It was an elementary school classroom and mommy kept insisting he had to go. Something in his current life triggered the emotion associated with this period in his life and he used all his adult skills to find a very tragic solution for his very real emotional pain.
Then began the calls for gun control, starting with President Obama. Personally, I think it's a bit too late to expect gun control legislation to do much about the millions of guns already out on the streets. Maybe if we offered serious money to turn in guns we might get somewhere, but what happened yesterday is not the result of a truly criminal mind. Maybe American culture would be much better off if we began to put a real value on helping our kids learn about compassion and how compassion can positively effect so much with in it's radius. We certainly spend a lot of time teaching our kids about the benefits of competition, but we teach them very little about the downside of competition. We more or less leave them to deal with the downside on their own or demand they 'cowboy up' and get over it--especially our boys. Some of our boys are just not put together to deal with competition or it's downside and they don't choose to get over it, they choose to kill it or themselves.
Compassion has no downside and it breaks down a lot of barriers, even the barriers associated with cross wired brains. Imagine our schools if compassion became as important an attribute as competition. If we actually meant, 'no child left behind'.