I have tried to avoid looking at pictures of the treatment of Ashley Smith from still photos to videos. But, it is wrong to look away for my own sake. It is wrong for any of us to look away for our own sake. . We need to see it so that we never let our government treat the mentally ill as "lesser than."
I planned to write about Christmas today. Specifically, what I want for Christmas. But it doesn't seem right when that's not at all what caught my attention this week. What's in my head and my heart, on my Facebook feed and Twitter stream, in my inbox and in so many conversations I have had is the horrors and devastation from the Newtown, Connecticut shootings of last Friday.
I have two boys. They like to turn their fingers into guns, their toast into bayonets and the household firewood into rifles. For a while I was worried that banning guns in the home made them more desirable, like our North American drinking restrictions. But now I think it's simply part of that Y chromosome. So it's up to me as a parent to teach responsibility and empathy.
We've seen the same debates take place after the shootings in Aurora, Colorado, Virginia Tech, and every time, pundits miss the point. Simply put, there is no antidote for evil. The notion that simply changing the laws will take away the pain and suffering of this tragedy or even prevent future ones from occurring is simply not true.
Just now we are getting to know the people behind the numbers. Twenty-six dead, but who are they? The stories of immense courage are coming out, teachers running toward the sound of gunshots, some shielding children with their bodies. I don't know if anything can make this worse, but that this happened at a time of year that fills that age of innocence with such excitement and wonder just adds another level of heartbreak.
Events like this would never happen if accessing mental health services was as easy as getting guns. Canadians should not feel sanctimonious about this tragedy. The problem is not only guns. What we do share with our grieving cousins south of the border is a lack of access to appropriate mental health services.
No one goes to teacher's college because he or she wants to hide with children in a dark closet, or step into the path of an armed madman. But we don't choose the society we live in, and sadly, this comes with the job. So teachers do so rightly (I feel obliged to say) armed not with guns, but with the kindness, compassion, and sense of duty that can only be found in one's heart.
It's been one of those days when the words are many, yet not enough. Because what can you possibly say about such horror? Nothing really. I've wept for the parents, siblings, children, spouses, friends and families of those who were so violently taken from this earth at Sandy Hook Elementary School.
Shock, disbelief and tears have flooded us, after the Newtown, Connecticut slaying of 20 primary school children aged 5-10 years old. Although it's easy to be blindsided by the heinous crime that took place, let's ask ourselves if the same could happen at our child's school -- and what steps can be taken to prevent a similar tragedy?
Just shortly after the news that 20 small children were killed in Connecticut, the White House Press Secretary said "today is not the day" to engage in a policy debate over gun control. But it hardly matters if we all agree that shooting schoolchildren is terrible if we don't do anything to prevent it in the future -- and that is difficult to do in a society that promotes gun culture to even its youngest members.