The tragedy in Newton which saw 20 small innocent children and 6 heroes that tried to defend them massacred grabbed the attention of the nation, if only for a brief moment. Like all other massacres in America, we were too quick to grieve, lay teddy bears, and tell stories to console ourselves about the hero’s in this story and move on to the next crisis and condemn the memories to the past and move onto our daily routines.
I have a four year old son, Dejan. The thought of someone laying waste to 20 small innocent lives, riddling their little bodies with bullets and leaving them to suffer and die struck me particularly hard. I know the tragedy isn’t about me or my feelings about this terrible slaughter, it is about the families devastated by what happened and what we as Americans plan to do about such a tragedy, to attempt to prevent something like this from happening again in the future.
I have heard a lot about God, Religion and guns in relation to what happened. God is there to provide comfort for those who lost soo much, potentially everything they lived for, swept up in the madness that consumed this small town. God can provide the families comfort, perhaps. What he cannot do is find reason for the slaughter; God doesn’t kill children to prove messages about prayer in schools, gun control or mental illness. If you think that God did this because he wanted those kids in his kingdom you are more disturbed than the shooter himself. People don’t need to be comforted, they need to be outraged, outraged enough to demand change. Too quick to move on from this tragedy to the next and nothing is learned and nothing is proven and nothing will change. It makes the cycle of life and our time on earth pointless if we are not reflecting, developing as the human race and attempting to make the world a better place for all to live in.
The first time I walked into my son’s school after the tragedy, the day after the shooting. I heard the sound of little children’s laugher, oblivious to 20 human lives they shared so much in common so far away from them, thank goodness I told myself that it was unlikely they would ever have to experience such carnage in person. I broke down when I saw my sons teacher, crying I thanked her for the kindness and caring she provided for not only my son but all the children in her school. I realized that teachers love their children and what they do, in a day in age when we often treat public educators as a hindrance instead of an asset the realization that likely your child’s teacher too would sacrifice their own lives to protect the lives of their pupils, that they deserve more respect than they receive. I cried as I thanked her and the principle for the care and security which they provide, we give them our most precious gifts and yet we rarely take the time to appreciate what they do for us. The vitriol with which we attack educators in this country is appalling but that story is for another day.
I tried not to dwell too much on the details of what happened in Newton, CT and the endless cycle of coverage but my reaction was different than what I expected. I thought about all those children’s lives lost during the war in Bosnia, a war that started over 20 years ago and ended less than 5 years later. I thought about the endless cycle of massacres often directed, intentionally at children. From people waiting in lines to get bread and water in Sarajevo to children playing in parks, children were massacred on a daily basis. Sometimes like Markale I and II massacres that were covered heavily, while others like the children playing in a playground in Dobrinja to the endless cycle of sniper attacks were hardly ever mentioned. As soon as the story hit the papers, the outrage faded and so did the care about what was happening in Bosnia. The worst single massacre of children may have taken place in Tulza in 1995 when 71 people were killed and 240 wounded mostly young kids and young adults who were gathering and enjoying the day, being young and in love. The outrage was swift and concise, yet there was no video and it caused no change in the ineffectual UN policy which continued as is. The death of all these children still wasn’t enough to cause a change. A friend of mine survived a massacre of children playing in Sarajevo when the Serbs lobbed mortar rounds at a group of kids playing in Dobrinja, many of her friends weren’t so lucky.
A friend who fought in the Bosnian war walked by the same group of kid’s everyday on his way to the frontlines. One time after talking and walking past the group of kids sledding, he got about two blocks away when a mortar round landed on those kids. He ran back to the scene, tried to help one of the young girls mortally wounded who he had just been talking to minutes before. She laid their motionless, when he tried to help her up, her brain fell out of her head, an image he will never be able to get out of his head, and she was about 7 years old. My passion for Bosnia is partially driven by the lack of justice given to the victims by so much of the world after so much tragedy, trying to make up what they were never given, acknowledgment of their suffering and attention to it in an attempt, unlike what happened after WWII, that this time we will not allow it to happen to them again and we will not forget.
Scenes like that and the Newton classrooms, if people actually saw what it looked like to see classrooms with little bodies stacked up like wood, skid marks of blood trails as wounded children tried to pull themselves to safety and bloody handprints as they tried to get help for themselves and their wounded friends. If people actually saw these images instead of Facebook fake roadside velvet paintings of Jesus comforting those children while holding them in his arms, then maybe we could make a change.
Instead we are treated lunatics like Alex Jones spewing nonsense about suicide, homicide pills, 9-11 being an inside job and that the government of the US is a bunch of jack booted thugs (a comparison Osama Bin Laden would love if he was still alive today)…