Editorial: Five Years After Sandy Hook, Has Love Won?
We’ve let them down.
Charlotte. Daniel. Rachel. Olivia. Josephine. Dawn. Dylan. Madeleine. Catherine. Chase. Jesse. Ana. James. Grace. Anne. Emilie. Jack. Noah. Caroline. Jessica. Avielle. Lauren. Mary. Victoria. Benjamin. Allison.
All 26 of them.
Five years ago, in those painful days after the massacre at Sandy Hook, we mourned with the moms and dads and wept alongside our own children for all we’d lost. Innocent lives. Innocence itself. We vowed to protect our children from the Adam Lanzas of this world. The legislature passed new gun laws.
Hearings were held on mental health care. The state poured millions into bolstering school security.
But, above all else, we repeated two words over and over as we tried to recover:
We said it over and over in the hope that we were right, as if by saying it enough times it might actually prove to be true. There were signs everywhere, in the gifts that poured into Sandy Hook, in the commitment to kindness that seemed to radiate from the small town in western Connecticut. And, most of all, in the brothers and sisters and moms and dads of the children slaughtered that day, who searched for ways to keep the darkness from taking over their days. Playgrounds sprang up all over the state. Scarlett Lewis wrote about the power of hope in healing. Annual awards for kindness were handed out to remember Charlotte Bacon.
In recent months, though, a different mood has taken root in our nation, a narrative of intolerance, anger and fear. There are many to blame for the current state of our national conversation, though the damage President Trump has done is immeasurable. Both as candidate and commander, he has played on fear and insecurity in a classic and cynical game of divide and conquer. Shame on him.
But shame on us, too. Are we blameless in all this, simply victims?
The breakdown of civility at the top has filtered into our daily lives.
Logical, perhaps. But not the only possibility. Have we listened to those with whom we disagree or have we simply condemned? Have we tried to understand the anger and frustration so many Americans seem to be living with these days? Have we looked beyond the walls of distrust that we’ve built up over the last year to see if maybe there’s someone out there, trying to get in?
The darkness that spread over Sandy Hook in the days after the massacre spread through all of Connecticut, through the entire nation. But the men and women who lost sons and daughters that day decided that the only way to truly honor their memories was to fight that darkness. If the parent of a 6-year-old gunned down by a madman can do that, can we?
Love may well win, someday. It just might be harder to get there than we imagined.