I had to hop over to CNN.com on Saturday to see why all of my Facebook friends were so sad. The radio had been off, or playing Christmas music the last several days, so our Friday came and went without anything remarkable to set it apart. We might have been the only ones carrying on in blissful ignorance, taking our day for granted like usual.
As I read what had unfolded in Newtown, I was profoundly grateful to not have a tv.
The knowing, though, I took on in my own way, without reservation. I heaved the knowledge of what had happened onto my shoulders to join in the collective of people everywhere that were carrying this burden, together. It feels like a responsibility, like something we owe to the victims and their families – to know that this has happened, that it is even possible, and to participate in the wave of fierce emotion that has begun to envelop all of us touched by the horror. I don’t wish to be oblivious to it, but I am grateful that I don’t have to be bombarded with the glorifying of it all. Knowing what the killer looked like, seeing footage of grieving parents, or worse – none of this intensifies the feelings of support and empathy that I offer up to those at the heart of the violence.
I do not wished to be spared the knowledge of this happening, but I am grateful that my children are, for the moment. Surely it will come up soon, surely the facade of a safe and loving world will start to crumble, but doing so preemptively will not make them safer. If only it were that easy. But parenting might. Teaching non-violence by example might. Advocating for real, holistic treatment of mental illness might. Offering support to struggling parents and mentorship to kids who need it might. How can we be part of the solution in our own towns? It seems the only way to lessen our share of the burden.