"This kind of thing doesn't happen here."
"You hear about it, but it's about other people -- not you."
"Who could believe this? Who would ever do such a thing?"
"It's all unreal... "
Twenty-six people -- 20 children and 6 adults were gunned down in a small town in Connecticut by a crazed killer with semiautomatic weapons.
So many questions need answering: How did he have access to such an arsenal? Why should anyone have access to what amounts to weapons of war? Did he get the help he needed with his obvious issues? And on and on and on...
But here is the saddest truth. It does happen here -- here being anywhere. It is about me and you. Believe it, it's sadly as real as it gets.
When I searched "School Massacres" there were some 10 million references returned in milliseconds. Believe it.
One site listed the 10 Worst -- terrorist attacks, disgruntled employees, simple nut cases -- and what makes it even more poignant is that no continent is free -- no one country is more vulnerable than the next -- the common element is that children are, plain and simple, the most vulnerable target of all.
And, as shocked and "surprised" as we are that it happens here -- here as in anywhere -- schools all over the world have heightened their security. Children drill for just such occurrences and teachers are trained to react and cope as they did heroically last Friday.
Clearly in our collective knowledge we worry, we plan, we do our best to protect, but somehow we don't seem to do enough to prevent.
As I scanned the news of Saturday and Sunday, I lost count of the attacks on schools and schoolchildren happening all over the world. In China, in Afghanistan, in Syria -- some by outright crazies, some because they hate the idea of children learning, and some because kids get caught in the crossfire... collateral damage, if you will.
No matter the reason, the children die, they are maimed, they are scarred for life.
And every once in a while -- as in Connecticut -- or like the young girl now recuperating in the UK, shot by the Taliban -- we transcend mere statistical counting and the story rises to our collective consciousness and for a brief moment we wring our hands, we come together and then we move on, adding another set of numbers to a grim and mounting score as the next attack becomes the new tragedy and the old fades to a statistic.
Who knows what cure for cancer was killed in that school, what technological advance to make our lives better and more comfortable, what music yet to be composed or art to be created, who knows what solution for world harmony is buried with any of the victims... anywhere in the world.
Nelson Mandela, former President of South Africa, once said, "Safety and security don't just happen, they are the result of collective consensus and public investment. We owe our children, the most vulnerable citizens in our society, a life free of violence and fear."
Clearly we need to do more than strengthen the locks on our school doors and tighten up the evacuation protocols for children and teachers. And to be fair, I haven't mentioned the 19,000 or so children who die everyday around the world because they don't have access to medicine, food and other basic necessities that most of us take for granted.
It's easy to blame the perpetrators and yes, they are evil. In some sick instances we have even seen where the victims themselves were blamed; however, Albert Einstein had a different take. Listen: "The world is a dangerous place, not because of those who do evil, but because of those who look on and do nothing."
So what do we do? What should we do?
Maybe the place to start is by hugging our own children and understanding that they are the proxy for all. Children -- all children -- are our future, our afterlives if you will. We need to protect and nurture them all.
One last thought: Teach your children well. Listen:
Hug and act, because these kinds of things do happen and we need to make sure they don't.
What's your view?