In the holiday season of Christmas and New Years, most of us will reflect on the year that's about to end and begin to make resolutions for the year ahead.
What can we learn from these two seemingly unrelated events: that tragedy can strike at a moment's notice, that events seemingly beyond our control can overwhelm us, and that human beings have an infinite capacity for compassion and charity in helping those who are suffering in the wake of these tragedies.
But perhaps more importantly, we learn that our elected leaders, whose job first and foremost is to protect us, have not done their jobs well over the past few decades.
Climate change is not a sudden problem and many predicted its pernicious effects on our coastal areas. Hurricane Irene in 2011 should have been a wake-up call to New York's leaders. Did we move then to protect our coastal residents, our subways and tunnels from flooding or our fragile electrical grid?
Not that I know of.
Did our leaders in Washington, D.C. do anything to limit semi-automatic guns, large magazine rounds of bullets, provide additional mental health resources for alienated adolescents, or move to limit violent video games which desensitize our youth?
No, no, no and no.
Climate change and gun proliferation are twin terrors that will not go away and will lead to many more tragedies in the future. The more this country ignores this, the more our elected leaders commit political malpractice.
We need to find the expert voices who can draft policy to offer additional mental health resources to alienated adolescents, some of whom turn murderous, like Adam Lanza, while most just pose harm to themselves (and sometimes their own families).
Our elected leaders in New York State and in Washington, D.C. perhaps deserve their Christmas holiday like we all do, but they should spend a good part of their quiet time reflecting on their failures in 2012 to protect their constituents.
They need to make 2013 the year we learn the lessons of Sandy and Sandy Hook. The year we focus on protecting Americans from nature and from our fellow man.
At this time next year, we should all say that the tipping point of 2012 in climate change and gun proliferation led us to finally stem the tide.
And then we will all say: Amen.
Tom Allon is a 2013 candidate for Mayor of New York City.