Monday, 17 December 2012

Joy to the world?

Joy to the world?
16 December 2012

I am an internally optimistic person.  I see happiness and positivity all around me.  Every single day.  Small things bring me joy and fill my heart with hope and love.  They bring a smile to my face and give a lift to my step.

Yet, inexplicably I’m missing a little sparkle.  Or is it inexplicable?  The Newtown shooting has filled me with sorrow and compassion for the many suffering.  The families who have lost loved ones.  And the huge ripple effect the tragic event will have on the many, many people directly affected by it.  Members of the community.  Fellow pupils of the school, who have lost young friends.  How does one adequately explain such a horror occurrence to young children?  But then we also know that the ripple effect will extend far past those directly affected.  It will have an impact on many people all over the world.  Even in sunny South Africa, we are feeling it too.  Compassion is able to circumvent the globe.

The fact of the matter is that on the 14th of December 2012 twenty year old Adam Lanza made his way to a school in Newtown, Connecticut in the USA – this after shooting and killing his mother at home.  And a mere short while after his entry into the school, twenty six people were dead, including him.  Among the dead are his mother, the principal of the school, the school psychologist, a first grade teacher, a student teacher and twenty children – all aged between six and seven years old. 

I can’t wrap my mind around it.  What made him do it?  He is described as a brilliant and intelligent young man, but was thought to be slightly remote.  He even made the Honour Roll as a student.  What does this even mean?  Did his parents fail him?  Did society fail him?  Or was he just a plain old fashioned bad apple?  I would imagine that he was mentally unstable and battled some demons.  But be that as it may, I find it hard to be sympathetic towards him.  Surely he suffered greatly before he reached this point, yet I find it difficult to empathise.  He entered the school shortly before 9h30 when the school building is usually locked down for the day as a security measure.  Yet he entered, bearing three weapons.  One of which was a semi-automatic rifle.  How did he get these?  Well, they belonged to his mother.  She was an avid gun collector.  Apparently he had access to another three weapons, yet didn’t pack all six with him.  All of the victims were shot numerous times, some even point blank at close range.  I can’t imagine their terror and fear.

But here’s the bizarre thing.  Between 1966 and 2008 there have been 62 school shootings.  To the best of my knowledge, these statistics only refer to America.  Since the Columbine incident in 1999, there have 31 school shootings alone.  Yet gun control in America is a misnomer.  What gun control?  Certain states operate under different rules and legislation, enforcing stricter control.  Whilst other states are for more free with their allocation of gun licences and availability of guns themselves for purchase.

The biggest account of bravery, goes out to the First Grade teacher, Vicky Soto.  A 27 year old passionate, young educator.  Once she heard the gunshots being fired, she hid her entire class in closets and cabinets.  And when the gunman came through her door, she told him that the children in her class were all in the gym.  He took her at her word and without searching her class, he gunned her down and left.

My heart aches for the parents who have lost their children.  What an unfathomable phone call to receive.  Personally I’ve received a few phone calls from school and each and every time my heart sinks.  Because I know that something is wrong.  Usually it’s an easy fix – fetch your kid they’ve got stomach-ache, a tummy bug, fever, sprained ankle and one request to see the principal (the least pleasant of all of the phone calls I’ve had).  Occasionally I’ve been lucky, and the phone call has been a request for help – supervise a class, cover text books, help at a cake sale, etc.  But for these poor parents, life will never be the same again after their dreaded phone call.

Children are not supposed to die before their parents.  It is an unspoken rule and one that should not be broken.  How does one cope?  How does one come to terms with it?  Especially if the death was so violent and unnecessary?

My heart goes out to those parents.  Also to the family of Adam Lenza.  A beloved family member has turned into a monster overnight.  This is surely not the child his father helped to raise?  His brother must feel confused. 

But most of all, I ache for the poor children and their suffering.

This will leave a deep scar with many people and will be a blemish on America.  This was not their intention with their gun controls.  But perhaps this will make them sit up, take notice and re-think the status quo.  Because clearly, the systems in place are failing the innocent.  And I truly hope that a solution can be found, before we find ourselves mourning yet another school shooting in the not too distant future.

Rest in peace little children.  Rest in peace.

Vicky Soto


  1. If there is one thing that I have learnt over the years is that we live in a sick world , no parent should ever have to bury their child . R.I.P.

  2. This is too awful. Poor families.