Monday, December 17, 2012
This morning, I woke the boys up and got them ready for school before leaving to attend a mass at our neighborhood church, the church that our friends the Phelps attended before they moved to Newtown a couple of years ago. I haven't been to church in probably years, but I went today because Laura is a devout Catholic, and this is what she wanted. I sat in the dim church and only vaguely listened to the words of the mass, my lips moving automatically in prayer by habit, but the murmuring lulled me into a meditation and my mind went blank as it will when grace steps in and our grasping for control slips away.
Standing in the parking lot afterward, the few of us there who know one another and who know Laura, her husband Nick and their four children, two of whom attended Sandy Hook, spoke indignantly of everything that had happened. We wondered how they would cope, how their children would cope, how the town would cope. We spoke of the resilience of children and the necessity of living, truly, one day at a time. We were angry and incredulous at those who would continue to argue about the necessity of guns. I was surprised that some had not listened to nor seen President Obama's speech last night at the interfaith vigil in Newtown. Despite the lovely and profound thoughts of each person there, and all faiths were represented, it wasn't until the President spoke that I felt, finally, comforted. I felt led, actually, by someone deeply spiritual and deeply empathetic and profoundly powerful.
I hope that you will listen to his speech despite your saturation in media or antipathy toward our president's politics. You can do so here.
And here is an excerpt that I found particularly compelling and powerful in its resolve:
This is our first task, caring for our children. It’s our first job. If we don’t get that right, we don’t get anything right. That’s how, as a society, we will be judged.
And by that measure, can we truly say, as a nation, that we’re meeting our obligations?
Can we honestly say that we’re doing enough to keep our children, all of them, safe from harm?
Can we claim, as a nation, that we’re all together there, letting them know they are loved and teaching them to love in return?
Can we say that we’re truly doing enough to give all the children of this country the chance they deserve to live out their lives in happiness and with purpose?
I’ve been reflecting on this the last few days, and if we’re honest with ourselves, the answer’s no. We’re not doing enough. And we will have to change. Since I’ve been president, this is the fourth time we have come together to comfort a grieving community torn apart by mass shootings, fourth time we’ve hugged survivors, the fourth time we’ve consoled the families of victims.
And in between, there have been an endless series of deadly shootings across the country, almost daily reports of victims, many of them children, in small towns and in big cities all across America, victims whose -- much of the time their only fault was being at the wrong place at the wrong time.
We can’t tolerate this anymore. These tragedies must end. And to end them, we must change.