Grieving the Loss of Children

December 17, 2012 at 5:10 pm | Posted in Uncategorized | 7 Comments
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Like you, I have been taken up with Friday’s massacre of twenty children and six adults in a school in Newtown, CT., by a mentally ill young man using automatic weapons. The pictures of those dead six-year olds is enough to break your heart. Clearly, this event has devastated that town and our whole nation.

It sounds, too, as if this one (as distinguished from the previous three gun massacres Barack Obama has presided over) may result in some kind of gun control legislation. Dianne Feinstein, my senator when I lived in California, has stepped up, and even some gun rights advocates, like West Virginia’s Senator Joe Manchin, seem to be advocating more protections. I certainly hope they make headway. Legislation extending gun rights in many states in recent years has been truly scary; if the Federal government can use the Connecticut tragedy to pass  laws to reverse some of this madness, maybe there will be one good outcome from this awful event.

Furthermore, the conversation about the needs of the mentally ill seems to be advancing as a result of the deaths in Newton. All to the good.

I have to say, though, that there are people around the world– families in Pakistan, for example–who could be excused for thinking that people in the United States care a whole lot more about some children than others. As Chris Williams reports in an article on the webpage of the Bureau of Investigative Journalism, US unmanned drone strikes, the vast majority of them during the Obama presidency, have killed 176 Pakistani children since such attacks started in 2004. If you have a moment, take a look at the pictures of the dead Pakistani kids on that webpage after you’re done looking at the dead six-year-olds from Newton. And then consider this: unlike the tragedy in Connecticut, these deaths are unlikely to result in drone-control legislation.

I know, I know. Comparisons are odious. Why bring this up now when we are mourning the deaths of our own beloved innocents?

The only answer that comes to mind is this:  when else are we likely to think about it, about the nearly nine times as many Pakistani children whose deaths our taxes have funded since 2004, if not when we are grieving for twenty kids just like them much closer to home?

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  1. […] Quigley, law professor at Loyola University in New Orleans, makes the point of my previous post in much more detail than I do; see  “Remember All the Children, Mr. President,” on the […]

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  2. With all due respect…maybe not the best time to pose these issues in contrast to each other. We, as all people, grieve terribly and grieve profoundly for each child, (and each human being)that is lost to us–whether they live in our country or not.

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    • Not so sure, Mary Ann. Maybe you grieve them all. Most Americans don’t, or we wouldn’t be doing the violence that we’re doing. The contrast is too striking not to mention. See Bill Quigley’s post link to my send post.

      See link to Bill Quigley’s post in my

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      • We do not have to assign blame. This is not the time for that.

        The humane response is, I think, to sit down and grieve and weep and let our hearts be broken into twenty pieces. The humane response is to feel our own unbelievable hurt and to acknowledge the unbearable anguish that the parents and other family members feel because of the loss of their precious little wide-eyed children. For me, THAT is the starting point. Is there no moment to pause and face this first? Without assigning blame? In the days ahead, to let ourselves be stopped in our tracks and paralyzed by our grief is wrong. What did we learn then?
        WE, as caring and loving children of God, (any God) work with hope and live with hope that something good will come of this act. But only when we have descended into the screaming hell that this senseless murdering is–only then can we take our anger and work for change, work for gun control, work for better mental health treatment for all. For everyone everywhere.

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  3. Yours has more punch than his. Regina

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  4. Marian, I found myself thinking of the Holocaust. Each little group of 20 was as precious as this group, yet the numbers are so high as to be unimaginable, and therefore numbing. Also, I was glad the President in his list of those we mourn mentioned not just the mass shootings, but those who die on street corners in Chicago, bringing to mind the terrible urban violence against young people which we have come to accept as normal.

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