My heart aches for the families who have lost their child, for the students who have known the coldness of fear, for the communities touched by horror, for the parents of the shooter now gripped by disbelief. How do we make sense of it all?
For close to 30 years, I worked in colleges on the East and West Coasts. I've comforted parents who lost a son or daughter--to suicide, to a drunken driver, to an alcohol binge. I've tried to reach students ready to end their life, despairing of what tomorrow might bring. I've counseled abuse and rape victims. I've worked with the gamut of human sorrow, and through it all, I've hoped I've made a difference. But hope aside, there is a truth I've come to accept.
The human heart is far more complex than we might imagine. It is there in the bowels of our being that we hold our fears, our regrets, our secrets and our terrors. When we cannot see the light that beckons us, when there seems nothing to live for, when religious beliefs erode into fairytales or distorted interpretations, we humans often lash out in destructive ways. And it is then that a gun hidden in a closet or a knife in a drawer becomes a means to express-- desperation.
What are we to do?
As a family separated by geography, ethnicity, experience, faith and so much more, how can we help our youth? For me, this is the haunting question demanding my attention.