The last time I saw Ben Wheeler, he and his big brother Nate were eating chocolate-chip pancakes and being terribly silly. Nine months after the pancake breakfast, I got a strange voicemail: There had been another school shooting, this time in Connecticut.
A year ago, a completely mentally unbalanced man murdered 20 children and six adults in cold blood at Sandy Hook, an elementary school in Newton, Conn...
For a few months after Sandy Hook, it looked like the government was going to pass a new gun control law, specifically aimed at keeping guns out of the "wrong" hands. How is it that a majority of Americans now believe gun laws should be weakened or remain the same?
The young man that stormed Sandy Hook School that cold December morning last year was the kid that sat alone at the lunch table. I can't help but wonder if someone, anyone, had gone over to him and asked: "Would you like to join us?"
It has been one year since I saw my sweet little Emilie. I will be honest, I hate when the media comes into town. I don't like seeing their vans with large satellite dishes parked on every corner. I don't like seeing my daughter's picture on the news associated with her violent death.
I'm writing Jesse's words into the margins of my Bible next to Psalm 146. His words are an invitation to live differently than the way our culture pushes us to exist. His words make sense when I read them alongside this ancient text of Psalm 146.
It does take courage to live with faith and conviction in a society where children lose their lives, where young people go hungry and live in poverty, where senseless violence plagues us. But it's the only answer. Our actions and our words are the only way to push back.
The day had gone from being a routine December Friday in a historic and ornamented slice of CT, to a frenzy of standstill traffic, hovering helicopters palatable anxiety, and a swarm of media lining the narrow Sandy Hook sidewalks; the glow of holiday decorations all but obliterated by the harsh glare of their television lights.
The public is owed more information. We all want to know if there were opportunities to forestall such a gruesome tragedy. At the same time, we need to ensure that his story does not provide an insupportable platform for demonizing those with a mental illness.
I was one of a small group of volunteer Red Cross mental health professionals dispatched to Sandy Hook immediately after the shootings. We sought to both offer a compassionate presence and more direct counsel. But the practice of early mental health response to tragedy and disaster remains controversial.
Perhaps we vindicate Job by refusing to blame the poor for their poverty, by proclaiming the story of a mother who lost her child to a random act of gun violence, or by listening to the suffering of refugees in war-torn countries such as Syria.
On December 14, I sat in a firehouse surrounded by large group of concerned parents all wanting to know where our missing children were. I didn't know any of them. I didn't know that I would form a bond with this group of strangers that would forever connect us through tragedy.
Terrorism is politically motivated, and most gun violence in our nation is not. But when it comes to the impact of the easy availability of guns, it is hard to argue against the premise that we are being terrorized.
With quiet competence and courage, never having confronted this kind of horror before, Antoinette started talking to the young man, and surprisingly, he started talking back.
Sure, the NRA and gun lovers will kick and scream as they always do, but at some point, America must draw the line against letting those groups jeopardize our safety and take a stand for our right to be free of gun violence.
Though we suffer too, we're aware that it is only a small fraction of hurt compared with yours. So we hold each of you in our thoughts and in our hearts because that's something we can do.