©Tracy J. Thomas, 2012. All rights reserved.
Yesterday was art day for me. A kind of therapy day in the midst of a very busy week.
I was in the middle of working on the above iPhone montage when the news broke of the Sandy Hook Elementary school shootings.
I was stunned.
I was heartbroken.
I cried. No, I sobbed…
How in the world could anyone take the lives of such innocent babies?
Like everyone else in this country I feel devastated.
In the past I have addressed the gun control issue on this blog. I believe strongly that automatic and semi-automatic weapons should not be available for purchase on the market. Stricter laws surrounding background checks and proper identification should be enforced. However, purchasing firearms by way of “legal” retail channels is not the only way people who intend to do harm find those guns. If someone is set on using a gun, they can find it and still purchase it through illegal means.
I am all for the gun control conversation, however that conversation should not be held in the vacuum that it is usually held.
We need to stop sweeping mental illness under the rug. That is the BIGGEST conversation our country needs to have right now… It should be the “why?” Not the “what?” or the “how?”
We know that guns kill. But so do knives and bare hands and barrels of fertilizer and all the bombs we drop on other countries. Gun control is an important conversation because it gives us all a sense of “control” during a time when we feel utterly helpless.
But we should also be brave enough to face the fact that mental illness is REAL and there are a lot of individuals in our country who suffer.
Parents, teachers, doctors, clergymen, friends, family, etc. need to be trained to recognize the signs. We need to encourage our politicians to stop cutting programs that help the mentally ill. We need to have a conversation about the constant stream of violence that fills our televisions, the internet, our music and video games that feed unstable minds. We need to have a conversation about dysfunctional families and how they serve as triggers for mental illness.
But more than that, we need to start loving each other a little bit more. We need to stop and listen. We need to give a lot of hugs and kisses and stop our self-absorbed busy existence long enough to make a difference in the lives of a young person who might be hurting very deeply inside their soul…
For now, I am going to continue to embrace life and cherish each moment I have been given on this beautiful planet, as if it were my last day. But I am also going to love more deeply, listen more intently, attempt to understand more thoroughly, and always take the time to wrap my arms around the wounded souls that cross my path.
[I have decided to run a fundraiser for the siblings and classmates of the victims. You can purchase the above limited edition 12×12 print (run of 100) for $80. Fifty-percent of the proceeds after cost will be donated directly to a victim’s relief fund set up for the children of Sandy Hook. You can read more or purchase the print here: For the Angels of Sandy Hook]
For the little angels of Sandy Hook:
Charlotte Bacon, 6
Daniel Barden, 7
Olivia Engel, 6
Josephine Gay, 7
Ana M. Marquez-Greene, 6
Dylan Hockley, 6
Madeleine F. Hsu, 6
Catherine V. Hubbard, 6
Chase Kowalski, 7
Jesse Lewis, 6
James Mattioli, 6
Grace McDonnell, 7
Emilie Parker, 6
Jack Pinto, 6
Noah Pozner, 6
Caroline Previdi, 6
Jessica Rekos, 6
Aveille Richman, 6
Benjamin Wheeler, 6
Allison N. Wyatt, 6
We will hold you in our hearts forever…