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Welcome top the Cauldron, @SufeySuryananadi and @JoanneWadsworth

In My Head: How do you even begin to process such tragedy?

In the Cup: Yuban with a splash of almond milk

Currently Playing: Tchaikovsky’s “Nutcracker”

Daily Run: 20 minutes, 2.5 miles

On the Desk: Edits for Arthurian tarot article

On the Nightstand: Amy Vines, Women’s Power in Late Medieval Romance; Gordon Teskey, Allegory and Violence

BPAL of the Day: Shub Niggurath

We’ve had a rough couple of days here on Planet Earth. In China, 22 schoolchildren were slashed with a knife wielded by a 36 year old man. Fortunately, none of their injuries were life-threatening. Here in America, a 20-year old gunman walked into an elementary school and shot an entire classroom full of kindergarteners, killing 20 children.

I have followed both stories with a combined response of shock, horror, and deep compassion and empathy for the victims and their parents.I can’t even begin to fathom or to process this. I don’t know what it would be to send my daughters to school and never see them again, or to have them so terribly hurt by someone else, and me powerless to help. I hope and pray I never have to know what that would be.

I have also been horrified by the response of many people, both those around me and national figures. According to Mike Huckabee, this happened because we have systematically removed God from our schools(?! As far as I’m concerned, this is the biggest WTF moment of the whole thing — really? God wants to make a point, so He decided to take out 20 innocent children so politicians like you could get on the air and remind America of His presence? What about Church shootings — have we systematically removed God from Church, too? The man needs a muzzle…)

According to some of my friends, every teacher in America should be armed and trained to use the guns. I’m sorry, but I have worked in school environments where I am sure glad my coworkers didn’t have access to guns, because some of them were not the most reliable and dependable folks on the planet, and had they been armed I’m sure I would have been first-hand witness to at least one tragedy. There are plenty of news stories about teachers fighting one another in schools. Do we really want to arm these people and send them into the classroom with our children?

People are wailing that we need stronger gun control laws, or we need more access to guns; that this is because we live in a culture of violenceĀ  and all video games should be insta-banned, that this happened because of President Obama’s healthcare policies, that this is because of the impending Mayan Apocalypse. Apparently, according to some, this 20-year old mentally ill person did this because of the current U.S. administration. The left wing thinks it means we have to overhaul our social services system; the right wing thinks we need to hie-ourselves to Church and pray God overthrows the president because somehow, that will stop violence in our schools. There are raging debates exploding on Twitter about gun control, healthcare, religion, about who’s fault this is, about who’s to blame. People are attacking one another as individuals because they hold different views about religion and gun ownership (ummmm…. hello? When did this become about YOU? Twenty children die, and it’s most important right now that everyone agree with your personal views about something?!)

The “hindsight-is-20/20″ interviews coming from the town in which this horrible thing happened are, I think, the most clear evidence as to what is really happening here. People are saying of the killer: there was something off about him. He was not well. They kept to themselves. He seemed strange. He was one of those Goth kids. He was mentally ill. For me, this sounds like a clear case of, “it wasn’t our problem.” Well, now it is. How could something like this happen? Because we live in a Cult of Me. If I am not directly affected by it, it’s not my problem. If someone else is struggling, it’s not my problem. If something seems off about someone, I don’t bother with him or her, I just give a wide berth and keep on going. How many of these folks ever checked with the mother to see if she was doing all right? How many reported the young man’s “weird” behavior to anyone prior to this tragedy? How many reached out to this family before this happened?

A lot of folks are going to say “well, it wasn’t anyone’s business; they didn’t have the right to interfere or say anything; how could they know what he was going to do?”

I think, at least in part, thatĀ  this is exactly what is wrong and why this happened. Until people in this country start caring about one another more than they do about minding their own business and getting by, we’ll continue to see this behavior happening. Where do you think antisocial behavior comes from? It comes from a society that doesn’t properly socialize individuals. Sure, we need better and more balanced policies to deal with guns and gun control, and more accessible and affordable mental health services. We definitely have a basic violence problem in our society — we’re culturally de-sensitized to it, to a frightening degree (says the woman who specializes in its presence in medieval literatures.) But we also need a hell of a lot more compassion across the board, if we want to avoid tragedies like this in future. Blaming this on God, or gun control, or the second amendment, or Obamacare — it’s a ridiculous, pointless, mindless, thoughtless response to this tragedy.

At first, I was just angry, as I watched all of these senseless debates and fights erupting on social media sites. I was thinking, My god(dess)(e)(s), how can people be like this in the face of such tragedy? How can they be so unthinking, unfeeling, uncaring, so inhumane in their response? But then I realized — the responses are all-too-human. They’re because we do care. We’re not perfect. We’re afraid, and we’re sad, and we feel helpless, and we are responding with aggression — classic fight-or-flight, classic PTSD responses. It’s all just proof that we are human, and that we are imperfect in our human responses. But fortunately, that gives us the chance to rise above our imperfections and try to be more, to be better, to become something more than people who post away on Facebook and Twitter about our personal views and de-friend and insult anyone who isn’t grieving the same way as we are, who doesn’t hold the same views as we do and believe those views are the only way to resolve this.

There is no way to resolve this.

Twenty children didn’t go home yesterday after school.

And what can you say?

It’s probably not the most compassionate response for the rest of us to get on Twitter or Facebook and rail away about gun control and the Godlessness of the Leftist government. Do you think the parents of those children are going to feel better after they see us rip one another a new one in our impassioned desire to fix what can’t be fixed? What are your children learning from your response to this — to value human life? To hug loved ones a little tighter when something like this happens? Or to whip out your Blackberry and verbally assault anyone who disagrees with your religious or political take on the matter? To yell at the television or computer screen in frustration, to swear, to declare everyone else in the world a mindless idiot? Or to grieve and pray for the victims and remember to hold each day as a sacred gift?

We are not going to resolve any of this by squabbling with each other on social media outlets. It does no good. It’s an honest human reaction, but it’s not going to do any good. It’s not going to make things better. It’s not going to contribute to resolution, or to closure, or to anything positive that could possibly come out of this. That’s something that will happen over time — many months, many years, much discussion and intelligent, informed decision making will need to go into moving forward and trying to find ways to deal with the issues at the heart of this tragedy.

There are only two responses I think could possibly do any good at all, at this point. One is to respond as the Reverend Emily C. Heath suggests. The other, is to send a card to this school. Just buy a card and write something kind in it and send it to them — so they know someone is thinking of them, and not just furthering his or her own socio-political and religious views.


Coming together, rather than using this as a further excuse to drive ideological wedges between people, is the only appropriate response to senseless tragedy.