Resilient Communities are the Foundations of a Resilient America.

Sandy Hook

I have tried to avoid adding to the blather in the blogosphere about the terrible slaughter in Sandy Hook. But I have been incensed by the cynical pleading by single-interest groups promoting their own agendas; whether its gun control, better mental health care, or a return to Christian precepts.

Sure, if Lanza didn’t have access to assault weapons, fewer might have been killed – but many still would have died. I certainly agree that we could improve mental health care, but better care would have been meaningless in this case – diagnosis, so that Lanza could be treated, was the problem. We would all be better off if everyone followed the Golden Rule, but does anyone seriously think that this deranged individual gave a thought to the Golden Rule, let alone “Thou Shalt Not Kill?”

I’m not going to try to peddle any instant answers – I don’t think there are any. Incidents such as these have occurred since Man first picked up a club, first shot an arrow, sharpened the first knife. I think it’s more important to ask, “What are the factors that make these horrible events more likely?” As much as all of us would like to wave a magic wand and never have to witness a slaughter of the innocents ever again, the best we can hope for is to increase the odds against another occurrence.

If I look at factors that link many of these horrific events, one that immediately leaps out at me is that the perpetrators often come from broken homes. Would the presence of a father figure somehow have made it less likely that Lanza would go off the rails? Would a father in the house have been able to take those actions necessary to push the boy into treatment that his mother could not? Does the fact that more marriages than not now end in divorce make these tragedies more likely?

A second factor that seems to link these crimes is isolation. The perpetrators have distanced themselves from the rest of the community. No matter the nature of the community, no community countenances killing innocent children. How do we bring the isolated back into the community to make this less likely?

Conversely, has our posture of political correctness so confused us that we no longer know how to communicate and enforce community norms? Are we so afraid of offending someone – anyone – that we no longer dare say, “That’s not right.” Peer pressure is a powerful force; but lacking peers and pressure, what is left to prevent such minds from wandering down the dark paths of madness?

This season is the ultimate celebration of family. Our hearts grieve with those families who have lost so much. Please let us avoid taking simple actions simply because we feel we must do something – anything – to prevent the loss of more children, and to keep this deep grief from other families. Rather let us take the road too often less traveled. Let us find the causes of these terrible acts, and then act to eliminate them. But we must do this with the stark realization that our actions must be taken one person at a time, for all time. A daunting task if we must do it alone, but less daunting and likely more successful if we act as a community.