Saturday, December 15, 2012

Reflections on violence

After yesterday’s massacre at Sandy Hook Elementary I took a full moment of silence in reflection. It felt right so I took another. I reflected on confusion, and anger, terror, and loss. I reflected on kids, and vulnerability, and innocence.

Reflect too much and you begin to resemble a mirror. I strolled into the bathroom while the radio continued to play out incomplete and conflicting reports, and I stared into a real mirror to see how reflection is done right.

How many lifetimes-worth of fear are ticking off while parents struggle to find out if their child was in the sobbing mass who escaped Adam Lanza’s killing spree? What horrible end to that fear comes to those parents whose child did not make it out? I tried to reflect on what that would mean in my life, with AOD or AYD, but the mirror's reflection of me was blurry. I could wipe a moment of clarity from my eyes, but the lack of focus would rapidly return.

When Americans target other Americans they often target children. When we take the foreign 9/11 attack out of the top three terrorist attacks in the US the other two have an enormous child body count.

Timothy McVeigh parked his truckload of explosives right under the Murrah building’s daycare center. 19 kids under the age of 6 were killed.

Andrew Keogh placed his rough explosive charges all around the Bath consolidated school. 38 children between the ages of 7 and 11 were killed despite the fact that much of the explosive did not detonate.

The shocking enormity of these wholesale massacres may try to overshadow the retail killing of children in the US, but the sheer regularity of “unconnected” killings has grown their raw statistics so large they should block out the sun. When was the last time a year went by without a handful of reports of some adult violently ending the lives of a couple kids?

You know the drumbeat of this endless march; each beat another grisly headline: a mother drowns her kids, a father shoots his whole family, Cassie Anthony, a naked child’s body is found in a roadside ditch... The mass killings like Bath or Sandy Hook are just the occasional cymbal crash or “shave and a haircut”.

There is an argument to be made that negligence is a type of violence against kids. If we look at the numbers of kids killed one-at-a-time by negligent caregivers not a day goes by without the dispassionate numbers growing.

Including the act of negligence does more than simply swell the already too big numbers; it provides a way that I can see myself as part of a solution.

When the talk is about gunning children down in a school the very fact that I cannot imagine someone choosing to do this prevents me from picturing myself in the solution. When the talk is about a crazed father burning his family alive in their trailer I look at AOD or AYD, and I cannot imagine someone choosing to do that. However, when I ask myself if I have neglected my kids today I always realize that there is enough time to give them one more hug; one more word of encouragement.

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