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Editorial Reflections

Each person in each place in society is called to find ways to help

There were nine minutes of evil and an infinity of goodness after that,” said Dennis Stratford, who was making a delivery Dec. 14 to the Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn., at the time of of the shooting.  He later helped sort through warehouses of gifts from around the world.

The same happens during every tragedy and disaster.  We weep.  We empathize.  We care.  We send things or ourselves to help people heal and recover from losses.

The people in Newtown will never be the same.  Nor is anyone affected by any tragedy ever the same.

Will we go back to being numbed, however, as media rush on to the next big news event?

We ask why because we want solutions and prevention.  Sadly, we already see that the flow of why enters a blame game for some of those arming people who never should have weapons, particularly weapons of mass destruction—assault weapons.

Will we let our mourning move us to act, to reinstate an assault weapons ban that could work, one that includes a buy back?

Will we look at how we “carefully teach” our next generation of children, our teens and young adults through sales of toy assault weapons, violent video games, ever escalating violence in movies and an emphasis on violence in news coverage.

While Christmas shopping in the toy section of a mass retailer, I was thwarted from that goal by encountering a prominent display in one aisle of toy M-16 assault weapons—the military version of the gun that slaughtered 20 innocent children and six adults at the school—plus some multiple-shot dart guns and other rifles. 

I wrote the national office asking for them to be removed, but was told “we are a responsible retailer” and not doing anything illegal.  “There’s a market for them,” the woman replied.

As we numb ourselves to the escalating violence we as a society subject ourselves to more and more of it. Yes, I saw the violence of the Vietnam War on my TV and that did not mean I became violent.  It motivated me to be a peacemaker.

How much violence do we need to see or know of to act to oppose it?  How much violence do others need to see to make them believe the world is full of evil and is so unsafe they need guns for self defense?

In fact, we each can chose to speak out when offended—as I was by the presence of toy assault weapons on shelves to be sold for Christmas.  I learned on checking back and not seeing the weapons on the shelf that they were all purchased, not pulled.

When will we choose to be blind and silent?  When will we choose to see and speak up?  Will it make a difference?  If enough people do speak, it will.

We need to keep speaking to keep the momentum going so the minimum of prohibiting assault weapons, developing buy-back programs, challenging violent video games, improving mental health care access and the myriad of other solutions can be possible.

When we look for solutions, we need to be open to all of the above—the big factors and the small ones, all contribute to the mentality that we must accept massacres in our schools, houses of worship, businesses, homes, streets and even in the midst of emergency responses.

There is no way that more and more security will necessarily prevent such massacres that increasingly affect and limit the rights and freedoms of everyone to assemble, speak, worship, even just to live and move about our communities.

In each of our areas of living and working, we must look at what we are doing and see beyond what some assume will help their profit margins.  Do we value money at the expense of lives?  Do we value gun rights at the expense of all other rights?

We in media must explore what we can do and must realize the fantasy created by the ever-exploding unlimited unleashing of violence is no longer newsy.  It’s numbing, deafening, blinding and heartwrenching. 

Real news is about everyday heroes, everyday goodness—the everyday “infinity of goodness” that gives us hope, courage to act, power to care and reason to live.

The news is also about that which has been excluded by saturating space with too much conflict, sensation and sex, assuming they are the only things that sell.  The everyday infinity of goodness is actually impressive.  This is not to say we ignore the evil.  We need to know about it, but not hear the same details repeated ad nauseum.  Do some need more details of the carnage at Sandy Hook?  Perhaps some do, but the constant repetition of the same news about an event helps us tire of it and move on with questions unresolved, fears heightened, actions stalled and solutions thwarted.

Media, mental health, merchandisers, WMD owners, faiths, governments, military—everyone of us—must take responsibility in ways our roles make possible.

Mary Stamp - Editor

Copyright © January 2013 - The Fig Tree