How does one make sense of the events of Friday December 14th in Connecticut? What does one say, do? What do our reactions portend for today and tomorrow and what do they say about us and our news media?
As we search for answers many of us still have only questions. And, in times like these, we seek information. At the same time, we seek the solace and comfort of community. It is truly when the media can be at its best – and worst. How did you first learn of the events in Newtown? As it happened during the day, most likely it was through the web or radio. A TV in the lobby of our office kept those coming and going informed. A tweet from an NFL player I happened to notice informed me that events were unfolding at an elementary school. And, during the evening hours, who wasn’t glued to their television sets for additional details and a quest for connection; the latter almost a desire for validation that this was an anomaly, that we are still, as a society and at our core, good. By and large, the news media showed respect early for the families with children involved. Incredibly, later in the day, many young students and their parents were appearing on camera to discuss the events of the day. One would hope a psychologist was the source of their first conversations.
Since philosophers could philosophize, there has been debated the question: Can we recognize good without evil? Further extrapolated to our modern society: Does positive change come without tragedy? These are questions too painful to consider. Instead, there has begun, once again, an all-important dialogue designed to enact measures to, it is hoped, prevent such violent recurrences. Today, we are once again examining gun control, mental health issues and the family unit. That is a good thing. That is healthy.
It is ultimately sad, however, that it takes adversity to bring us together. Yet, trying to find a ‘light’ amid darkness, as I write we are not Republicans vs. Democrats battling over the answer to eliminating the fiscal cliff. We are not the State of Michigan vs. Detroit City Council on EMF law or union backers vs. right to work. All of those issues have been taken off the front pages and onto the back burner of importance in our lives. Today, we are just people – those who love and want to protect our children. We are unified in our shock, grief and desire to show support for the victims. It’s the first step toward healing. And, lest we forget, it is who we really are.