It’s hard to know what to say about the horror that took place this morning in a Connecticut elementary school. The combination of a madman, children and guns has left a reported 27 dead, including 20 children, most of them apparently executed in a single kindergarten classroom.
Again, 27 dead, and hundreds and hundreds directly connected to them have had their lives forever diminished. Even the millions of us who knew nobody in Newtown have been left chilled to the bone on this early winter day.
The 24-year-old gunman, dressed in paramilitary garb, is among those dead. His mother, a teacher at the school, is dead as well. Three weapons were reportedly found at the scene — a .223-caliber assault rifle and two semi-automatic handguns.
As always, the trauma inflicted on those families and that community is difficult to comprehend, and it is compounded by the brutal senselessness of the crime. Tragedies such as this always create questions — “How?” and “Why?” just the beginning of them — for which there can never be adequate answers.
I do know that anybody capable of such cold-blooded killings exists in a world that is far darker than any of us are able to imagine. I also suspect that crimes such as this are perpetrated in part to force the rest of us to glimpse — if just for a horrifying moment — that place so devoid of warmth and light.
Someone on Twitter just asked me: “WHY does this happen now when it didn’t 40, 50 years ago? WHAT is different?” I don’t know the answer to that one either. I suspect that we are witnessing a form of hysteria, as easily communicable as a computer virus from Aurora, Colo. to Clackamas, Ore. to Newtown, Conn., and once that virus is released it is impossible to predict where it might emerge next. Individuals who once might have stewed, alone, in their twisted anger and bitterness now recognize others like themselves on the evening news, and one violent incident creates a sort of permission for the next.
– Jay Bookman