Like all of you, I am deeply and profoundly saddened by the events that occurred in Connecticut last week. I have fond memories of my childhood school and teachers who were a positive influence on me. I have close friends that have taken the often thankless job of preparing children for the future. And I’m a parent, so like the rest of the nation I’m confused, angry and scared about what has become an event that occurs far more than it should.
I’m not going to spend this space trying to understand what drove the shooter to this act because I don’t think there’s an answer to that, at least not an answer that would provide any of us solace. Insanity is not the provence of a sane mind.
I’m also not going to opine about gun control. That debate is in full swing already and both sides are more than capable of making their arguments without my help.
Instead, I want to talk about our impact on one another. There are so many examples of great role models and people who’ve had a positive impact on others, especially giving help to those less fortunate. This horrific event reminds us all that the impact can go the other way as well. Those we judge as less fortunate can bring us all to tragedy in minutes.
We’re a capitalist society and it’s one of the things that makes us great. But the dark side of that needs to be acknowledged: our success can sometimes make us believe that those not as successful are not worthy of our attention. After all, if I became successful through hard work then others can do that too. And I didn’t need a handout to get where I am so why should I give help to others? It sounds harsh but I’ve heard it several times.
The popular political theme of recent times is to view help given to the less fortunate, the less successful, as a form of socialism. Maybe, in some cases, that’s correct. But we can’t continue to look the other way. The true value of strength is that it allows us to care for those who aren’t as strong. And no matter our success, our riches or our fame, we’ll always be impacted by the people around us, good and bad.
Some will agree with this and others won’t. That’s fine; differing opinions also make us great. But let’s at least agree that we all have an impact on everyone around us. We can build bigger fences, but I hope there are also people willing to help. Even a simple smile can go a long way.