Throughout the history of the United States, there have been too many examples of horrific, senseless violence resulting in the deaths of innocent people. These are the kinds of acts that shock people in this country to their very core and force them to reconsider everything they think they know about the world around them.
Many of us remember the anguish and horror we felt when the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building in Oklahoma City was bombed on April 19, 1995. Many of us—students and parents alike—were forever scarred by the murderous events that transpired at Columbine High School in Littleton, Colo., on April 20, 1999. Many of us felt time stand still when the Twin Towers and Pentagon were attacked by terrorists on Sept. 11, 2001. Many of us gasped in horror when Virginia Tech University experienced a mass-shooting tragedy on April 16, 2007, and were reduced to tears when Northern Illinois University—an institution right in our own backyard—experienced a similar tragedy 10 months later.
Those same feelings crept up again last summer when a midnight showing of “The Dark Knight Rises” in Aurora, Colo., transformed into a mass-shooting nightmare. And then those feelings came slamming back without warning last Friday when Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn., became the setting for a horrific and simply unspeakable shooting spree that took 26 innocents lives—20 of whom were children no older than 7 years of age.
The Sandy Hook tragedy occurred at a time when this country is typically readying itself for Christmas and the holiday season as a whole. In the wake of such a heartbreaking event, many of us are no longer thinking about Christmas and New Year’s, presents and party hats, pie in front of the fireplace and champagne at midnight. How does one celebrate the holidays when they know there are families in Colorado and Connecticut who are now dealing with the reality of life without their child or loved one? How could we celebrate anything—much less a time of year built on cheer and goodwill—under these circumstances?
On the contrary, we believe that this country needs the holiday season now more than ever as an opportunity to begin the healing process by way of spreading both holiday hope and genuine kindness. This is a time when we should all stop and take a moment to appreciate everyone—family, friends, neighbors, even enemies—in our respective lives. At a time of year when the shopping is hectic and tempers are toxic, we must forgo the angry and petty behavior and instead strive to be the person who can help get others through a dark time such as this. At a time when finances can run slim, we need to take a step back and realize how fortunate we are to have our loved ones either within arm’s length or just a phone call away. There are people in this country who, as of last Friday, can no longer enjoy such a seemingly simple pleasure.
We’ll certainly see several debates come about as a result of the Sandy Hook tragedy—debates regarding gun control and practices concerning mental disorders. Those debates are bound to be hot-button issues. However, they shouldn’t prevent us from being decent to each other. In fact, nothing at this point should prevent us from being decent to each other.
At a time like this, the relationships we keep shouldn’t just be the most important thing—they should be the only thing. And that’s why it’s so important to use this holiday season as a time to heal, regroup and get in back in touch with the things that really matter in life.
Here’s to a happier 2013.