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The elementary school shooting that occurred December 14, 2012 will always be remembered as a horrific tragedy, one that will likely spark a number of political and social debates, such as gun control and treatment for those with mental illness.
However, after reading numerous Twitter and Facebook posts following the incident in Newtown, Connecticut, I believe another troublesome issue has arisen from the event, one concerning the way we interact with one another after such tragedies. Postings of thoughts and prayers going out to the families affected are frequent and heartfelt, but the confrontational dialogue between individuals on their ideas for reform is becoming problematic. Many are reacting with anger, which is an understandable tributary in the range of emotions stemming from initial sadness and shock. However, it is important to remember that no matter how often these tragedies seem to occur, our anger should not be misplaced onto each other and we should never express shame over living in a country or world where such travesties take place.
Can we advocate for change? Absolutely, but derisive language and contemptuous arguments driven by emotion and not logic following such tragedies serve little purpose in the healing process. We cannot forget that our anger is derivative of the sense of community we feel as human beings, so we should not repel from the source of our passion. Healthy debates often spark change, but I’ve seen very few cordial discussions on social media sites since the shooting. When we suffer terrible loss from what we consider external forces such as terrorist attacks or natural disasters, we use that adversity as a tool to come together as people.
Conversely, when a member of our own society is the cause of mass heartbreak, as was the case in the Connecticut shootings, unity among us becomes a greater challenge. When gauging the strength of the human spirit and the core of our society, let us look not at the perpetrator of the crime but of everyone else involved in the incident: the loving mothers and fathers of the children at the school, the teachers who did everything they could to protect their students, and the first respondent policemen who arrived at the scene.
A staple of our success as a people has been that we will never agree on everything, but we can all agree that a tragedy took place on December 14th, 2012, and our thoughts and prayers are with everyone affected by what transpired.