Christmas is a happy time to get together with family and friends, but the recent massacre of 20 innocent children and six adults in Newtown, Connecticut, puts a damper on the festival. There are no words to describe what happened in Newton or words to express emotions. Even as someone with no elementary school kids, I became emotional as I watched the news on television. Mass shootings at schools in the U.S. have become frighteningly common.
Twenty innocent lives were taken away from this world unfairly, unbelievably, and six dedicated teachers lost their lives by someone they didn’t even know. As one commentator put it, a thousand years of the future was suddenly wiped away.
Whether you have children or relatives among the deceased or no matter how far you are from the tragedy’s location, you cannot but feel sorry for the parents of those children, mostly five and six years old. What kind of Christmas would it be for parents of the deceased children? What psychopath would plan such an event so close to the most religious and festive time of the year?
“They had their entire lives ahead of them – birthdays, graduations, weddings, kids of their own,” President Barrack Obama said as he brushed away tears. “This evening, Michele and I will do what I know every parent in America will do, which is hug our children a little tighter,” Mr. Obama said.
I only hope that the president doesn’t have to use these same words again because the time has finally come for the U.S. leadership to begin a meaningful dialogue on gun control. As President Obama acknowledged himself, this cannot go on and admitting that the United States is not doing enough to keep its children safe in the wake of the massacre at Sandy Hook Elementary school.
American politicians should forget their political differences and get together to save their nation by seriously discussing gun control measures. Not preparing for the next such tragedy would be even more ridiculous and obscene. America needs its leaders to look at the numbers of mass murders, identify the most effective policies for reducing mass murder, and apply those policies. If they don’t do that, the blood of the next batch of children will be on their heads.
Speaking at an interfaith vigil in memory of the victims, the US president gave an honest assessment of the tragedy, and stressed that change must happen.
This was Obama’s fourth memorial service for a mass shooting since coming to office in 2009. He also pledged that in the coming weeks, he would engage various parties, including law enforcement and mental health professionals, along with parents and educators, in an effort aimed to preventing similar tragedies. This tragedy has affected Obama as a parent and as a president so much so that he has already held talks with senior White House officials to “begin looking at ways the country can respond to the tragedy.” At least someone in the leadership has woken up.
While we are all deeply saddened and horrified with what happened, it shows how fragile our lives are. Even lives of children who had a whole life ahead of them are not sacred and safe. We hope that everyone affected by this tragedy will find peace and have their faiths restored. Let’s hope and pray that those who lost their loved ones have courage and strength to overcome their loss. My wish this Christmas is that we find our way back to a peaceful world where kindness rules and the bitter painful memories fade fast. I pray for those children at the school who heard the shots and had to live through a real-life nightmare, besides losing friends and teachers. Everyone should wish for a better and safer world in years to come.