NO NEWS IS GOOD NEWS?

This morning I was feeling sorry for myself. Christmas stress, I had not yet sent my cards or done anything about the festive season. Then I read on Facebook a posting about kids who live on a rubbish dump in Guatemala who have formed an entire orchestra from pruck they found on the tip. I found this incredibly moving and I teared up happily as I thought about the human spirit overcoming poverty and deprivation to create a wonderful sound.

Then news of the children in Newtown Connecticut shot by a very sick young man. Since then I have read a lot about how withdrawn he was, how he would just ‘shut down’ and yet no one investigated why he was as he was. A pleasant young man of the same age told the news camera that he travelled each day on the bus with him but he didn’t feel he knew him and didn’t talk to him and we get a picture of this malfunctioning kid who nobody took the trouble to get to know. And of course I blame the availability of the guns he used on his mother, who collected guns,and then used to murder these children. I find it hard to understand why anybody would collect guns but I live in different world – just up the road from the couple who left Eastleigh ‘for the safety of Newtown’. It is far too easy to blame his mother so I won’t; she was a divorcee holding down a responsible job as teacher in this same school. I imagine she was bewildered by this unhappy son of hers, we will never know now. But I do think that in Britain he would have been found to be a suitable case for treatment. We do still have a national health service that functions imperfectly but I feel that he would have been spotted and, with a bit of luck treated, I do hope so.

And then there is the age-old gun argument, should people be licensed to have as many as five guns – the number that his mother had? I do know how strong is the gun lobby in the States and it would take a very brave politician to offend this powerful group. And yes, everybody has the right to protect him or herself and property but I question the wisdom of using a gun to do it.  I see no likelihood of a total ban of guns even after this tragedy but surely this latest horror will lead to some new laws to limit the number of gun toting characters who leave their weaponry around to be used by any unfortunate or vicious person. Assault weapons – like the ones the army use in Afghanistan definitely seem out of order to me.

I think what I am saying is that in this world of mass communication we can be moved in many directions in one day. From exhilaration to despair in a few seconds, the world comes to us in all its glory and horror and we are involved with or without our permission. We react in our various ways, we cogitate and decide.This tragic incident must surely give the gunslingers pause, or not? And I feel it is a weird privilege to have this information and we have the right to process it in our minds and perhaps to DO something, I am not sure what but a tragedy like this must show us something surely?

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