Once upon a time there was a place where people could buy assault weapons with ease. A land, beautiful and filled with people who loved it, was also a place where television shows promoted deceit, anger and ridicule. Children played on swings while teens looked toward their futures. They also took lots of tests, played violent games and spent hours away from each other communicating via technology. This place had people who cured illness, landed a ship on the moon, sent billions of dollars for aid to other nations and recently raised funds for a town destroyed by a hurricane. A beautiful yet troubled place – God Bless America.
People from around the world still gravitate to this place called America. They hear of the opportunity. They see the statue in New York that welcomes the tired and the poor. Yes, this place is a wonderful place – much of the time.
Let’s be honest. Who the hell needs an assault weapon? Imagine, we have to debate whether or not it’s a violation of our 2nd Amendment Rights to carry such tools of destruction. Stop it! OK – protect yourself if you feel it is necessary – but with an assault weapon? Who are you expecting – the Taliban? This has to change.
Call me a technophobe, but do we have to spend so much time on being plugged in? Video games, computers, cell phones, iPods, etc., etc. How many of the young men who opened fire were isolated? I have said it before, a significant number of young people on my caseload are experiencing Existential Disorders! Who am I? Where do I fit in? Does my life have meaning? What is my purpose? These are questions we all ask. It’s difficult finding answers when you’re alone. It’s difficult finding hope when you feel no direction. We can add more police officers and make it more difficult to enter a school – all of which will keep people out. But, what do we do to bring more people together? Will our cure perpetuate the issue?
East Greenwich is a beautiful little New England Town. It has lovely homes, a quaint downtown area, successful parents and bright, talented kids. I write this a few days after the Sandy Hook disaster. My heart breaks for those who lost a loved one. Like millions across the land, I have many questions. The answers to some may not come easy. The answers to others are no-brainers.
We have created a culture of violence. Guns are sometimes easier to get than an appointment with a mental health specialist. On top of that, so much emphasis has been placed on medication that counseling has gone away from talking things through. Sometimes people just need someone to talk to. What’s up with that?
In the end, we can all do something. We can hug our kids. We can be nice to others. We can respect differences of race, religion and culture. We can spend more time with each other. We can reflect on things important. If each of us does those things, fewer guns will be necessary and those who are alone can be embraced.
Fairy tales often begin with “Once Upon A Time.” What recently occurred in a quiet Connecticut town was no fairy tale. Realty struck home pretty hard. With some love, hope and hard work, we can make new realities. Perhaps too simple? Maybe so. Let’s give it a try anyway. Say a prayer for the families who were touched by the incident in Newtown, Conn. Maybe they can find hope in Christmas.
Robert Houghtaling runs the East Greenwich drug program and is an occasional commenter on these pages.