Monday, December 17, 2012

our children

Dear ones, my hearts are with the grieving families in Newtown. And also with grieving you, you who are sending or not sending your kids to school today, who are trying to explain the inexplicable to them, or are longing to keep them innocent. There is not much to say, is there? People's dearest babies. A grown kid whose mind was derailed. Too many guns for the having and using.

There are murmurings of a million-child gun-control march on Washington. If there is, we will be there.

Is this a good time to think about the rest of the world's children? The 27,000 children who die daily from preventable disease and malnutrition? Who are also, in a very different way, victims of a world gone crazy? Maybe not. But maybe. This is the time of year that we donate to Partners in Health. It is the time of year that we decide, again, that we can continue to live without a mud room, that we can deal with mountains of shoes and boots and coats in our kitchen, so that we can stretch and give more than we can afford. Join me, if you can. Maybe then we'll feel like we have some agency, some world-changing power. I don't really know.

All my love to you. xoxo


  1. Ann McG.12:01 PM

    Love to you too Catherine. Giving is one way that we can help deal with our emotions over this loss. Every gesture puts more good in the world.

  2. Anonymous12:20 PM

    Oh let there be a march in Washington -- I long to stand up, speak out, do something in honor of those tiny blameless children. Thank you for your post, Catherine.

  3. Not there is any "feeling better" in this situation, but I had a feeling that your "dear ones" and your thoughts would both be forthcoming, and make me feel just a teeny-tiny bit more settled. Thank you. And I agree, helping and/or protesting seem like good actions.


  4. If you have a few spare pennies, we also support For my children, it puts a face on a need. No one should be without life-saving healthcare. How would you feel if your child needed treatment, it was available, and the difference between death or diability and health was only a few hundred dollars?

  5. Molly1:35 PM

    Can you explain to me how you think gun control is the answer? I'm not being snarky AT ALL...I just really don't understand the people on that side of the fence. If you change the laws, it's the law abiding citizens that are affected. The law abiding citizens aren't the ones doing these crazy, horrendous acts. If I thought making all guns illegal would save us these tragedies, I would be all for it...I just see the answer as having more to do with mental health in America and how it is (or isn't!) dealt with...please enlighten me.

    1. Shelly8:58 AM

      In my opinion... I think part of the answer is better mental healthcare AND a change in gun laws. These guns were legally bought and kept by this young man's mother and stolen from her by him. If she hadn't had legal access to them then neither would he and therefore so many lives could have been spared. We're seeing this similar pattern everytime one of these mass shootings happen. These aren't gang members walking into schools shooting up the place but upper/middle class kids playing too many violent video games who then take mom or dad's gun or order their own from Walmart (of all places) and make the "game" real.

    2. The same day that one man in America walked into a school and killed 28 of the 29 people he wounded, another mentally deranged man (this time in China) walked into a school with a knife and wounded 22 people, killing no one.

      Gun control is one of the answers. To be sure, not the only answer, but one of the big ones.

      People say things like, "If I thought making all guns illegal would save us these tragedies, I would be all for it," but I don't believe them. How 'bout we try it and see if it does work? K?

    3. Elizabeth8:41 PM

      The Newtown shooter's mother was, by all accounts I've read, a law-abiding citizen. Yet her legally-obtained guns were used to kill innocent people. Children.

      Were she not able to have an assault rifle, her son would not have been able to kill so many people so quickly. To have even one more survivor would be worth it, no?

  6. Anonymous1:44 PM

    Molly, I live in Connecticut. I do not know if gun control is the answer, though I think it is part of the answer. I do not think that regular ordinary people need to have these types of guns in their houses. If the regular law-abiding people did not have such easy access to guns, then the bad guys would not be able to get them so easily. Great Britain and Australia both significantly restricted access to guns after horrible mass shootings and gun related violence dropped in both of those countries immediately. See info on the Dunblane massacre for Great Britain and the Port Arthur massacre for Australia.

    If people in Great Britain and Australia can make their societies safer by limiting access to guns, so can we.

    Now I am going to also ask a question that is not meant to be snarky but very very genuine. To me, what we are doing right now does not seem to be working. What can we do to stop future school shootings? Are we willing to tell the school children of Connecticut that gun control "does not work" or should we be willing to give it a try? I would like to give it a try.

    I am only anonymous because I don't know how to work google. My name is Sarah Wiliarty.

    1. Anonymous7:59 PM

      I was devastated on Friday - weeping as though I had just learned someone close to me had died. I was longing to hear comforting words, and I thought of Catherine. But she is right - there are no words. I only hope a second-term president and the violence of 2012 can finally result in some real legislation that would give us all some tiny shred of solace. I too will march. Kim

    2. Anonymous10:41 PM

      Beautifully said Sarah. I live in Canada where gun control helps keep guns away from bad people too. Maybe
      , just maybe, the US could learn something here...we hope and pray because we are mourning right alongside you.

  7. Robin2:04 PM

    Molly, I agree that there's a conversation to be had about mental illness here, too, because these mass shooting all have that element in common. But what else they often seem to have in common is guns, particularly very powerful ones, that entered the world legally and ended up in the wrong person's hands. In this case, it was a quick step from a legal collector to a crazed shooter. In the case of Columbine, it was loopholes in gun show purchasing rules. I'm with Sarah in feeling that limiting what's out there could possibly limit what's available to people who commit these horrendous acts. Sure, there are millions of gun owners who are responsible, but the combination of mental illness and relatively easy access to such powerful weapons is one worth thinking through carefully.

  8. Thank you for reaching out. I sent mine to school today, then cried when emergency vehicles tore down the road shortly after I walked home. I have kept it from them so far, because this weekend held a birthday party for a friend and I just couldn't do it. How could I, when my daughter had already cried over a news story the day before about someone abusing a kitten? How do I tell her kids her own age were wiped out in an instant? I've had so many tears plop down on my baby's head as I've worn him about these last few days.
    The idea to give right now is wonderful. We are about to get some HSA funds that we receive to make up, supposedly, for our ridiculous deductible..maybe we can part with some of that, because even though we have to pay absurdly for it, my gosh at least we can.

  9. Thank you so much for this. Some friends online were posting about buying extra Christmas presents because they felt like spoiling their kids, and while I didn't say anything in response, my reaction was more like yours: Let us think about others in the ways that we can. There are kids around the world whose lives are threatened by violence (not this kind exactly, but for them, not very different) every single day. I'd like to direct my efforts (and donations) locally and globally both (while giving my kids extra hugs too, of course...)

  10. When we choose to expend our energy on making sure law abiding citizens have the right to use guns, we are expending energy on maintaining a culture of fear. That is energy that could be diverted to creating a culture of trust, love, and grace. Within twenty miles of where I live, two shootings have occured, first Columbine then the movie theater this summer. Coloradans rushed out to buy guns on Saturday. What if they had gone to church, to neighbors' homes, instead? Why wouldn't we owe it to our kids to put our energy into love, into grace? Where there is love, there is no fear.

    1. Beautifully said, Erin. I don't even know what I can add to that.

      We support a wonderful organization called As Our Own that rescues little girls (as young as 2 or 3) from the red light districts of India. We try to always give extra at Christmas. Today I got to see a picture of two of the little rescued girls, standing next to a Christmas tree and smiling. It brought a ray of light into these dark days.

  11. Hi Catherine,

    I love your blog. I am the mother of three, stepmother to two and an oncology nurse and I live in Connecticut not far from Newtown where I volunteer in a free clinic. My daughter is in graduate school at Teachers College in NYC and has spent her fall as a student teacher in the Bronx so this has hit us all very hard.

    My children's former teacher posted this on my facebook in response to a picture of one of the children and I share it with you because it is a call to action that really crystallized many thoughts I have had over these last few days.

    "As you are reading this, there are dozens, no hundreds, of people alive—right this instant—who are sitting in their homes or elsewhere absolutely, unbelievably devastated. Their entire world has come apart. They are suffering as you and I can only imagine. It is going on right this second. Why we're born, live, and die is not entirely an answerable question--not from a purely human perspective anyway. But while we're here, we have the responsibility to work toward lessening the bad that is here. It's the smile in that photo that gets me—an emotion felt, but where has that glimmer of joy gone? Did it just dissipate into the ether? Not if we can help it."

    I love the idea of a million mom (and dad and kid) march. We have so many resources in this country: passionate, creative, dedicated people. We just need to find ways to connect all of our families, communities, spirits and energy. You connect so many through your writing and your spirit.

    Thank you for that!


  12. Anonymous9:03 AM

    I was nervous all day Monday, with both of my kids at the same Elementary school (preschool and 1st grade). I know this fear is irrational from a statistics point of view, but it is there nonetheless. I've always believed in the good in most of us, that humans are not inherently evil, but are good. But man, that belief has been knocked on its head with this. And yet with all my heart I don't want this to change me.

    I had not heard about the million-child gun-control march. It sounds like a brilliant idea.


  13. Anonymous9:58 AM

    Please tell me where the murmurings are...

  14. This was written by a friend of mine, a writer for a local paper. I thought you might enjoy it.

    By Jefferson Robbins -

    "The "guns don't kill people" argument makes me froth. Because one, yeah, no, of course they don't because they are inert assemblages of moving parts, you moron, get outta here with that. And, two, when you're talking about a handgun in particular or an assault rifle generally, killing people is ALL THEY ARE DESIGNED TO DO. That is their FUNCTION. That is WHY THEY ARE CREATED. You don't drive a nail with a .38, you don't butter toast with a Glock, you don't text your friends with a Sig Sauer ... you aim it at a person and you KILL HIM WITH IT. It is a mechanism to make the act of killing a person more efficient. It probably works better in this regard than knives, poison, or your bare hands. It is also the best suicide machine yet invented. Any claim that these devices are on a par with a hammer or a hacksaw or a piece of cutlery, or that no further regulation is needed to keep them from the hands of those inclined to use them for THEIR INTENDED PURPOSE, is so asinine, so insulting, that I feel stupider for the fact that it has ever been voiced."

    For my part, I am glad that Christmas vacation has already started for me and my son, so I can keep him close.

  15. Anonymous3:24 PM

    Catherine - please do tell us about the murmurings of the million child march. This is Sarah again.

  16. Anonymous8:29 PM

    Here's a murmur:

  17. Anonymous8:46 AM

    Thank you, Catherine. Loved your post. Will make a donation today.

  18. Elizabeth8:35 PM

    My daughter, hearing things she never dreamed possible from a classmate on Monday morning, said "but guns aren't real". And on Monday night I had to explain to her that they are. "Well then only Army guys should have them" she told me.

    Pretty smart for 5 years old.

    Also, when you think about philanthropy, think about programs for children here in the United States as well. There are kids I know of my daughter's age who were allowed to watch the Newtown coverage unedited on TV, and whose homes contain guns, and for whom the only stability in their lives comes from after-school programs and the like. Anything that helps grow more peaceful generations is a good cause.

  19. Anonymous10:14 AM