Our View: We all need to hug our children a little tighter

Published 11:00 pm Tuesday, December 18, 2012

The holiday season should be the most joyful time of year, a reason to gather with friends and family to celebrate, whether it is Christmas for Christians, Hanukkah for the Jewish community or Kwanzaa in the African-American culture.

But this year’s holiday wreath comes enswathed in sympathy, sadness burdening our cheer as a country copes with the most unspeakable of tragedies. This past Friday a gunman broke a window to gain entrance to Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn., and massacred 26 people, including 20 children, before turning a gun on himself.

Left in the wake of Adam Lanza’s actions are families searching for answers, grief forever encumbering their devastated hearts. They will mourn the tragic loss of their children, shed tears for smiles that will never again light up the family room on a Christmas morning, yearn for a voice that has forever been silenced at the hands of a demonic madman.

Memories are left to fill the void of children whose young lives were taken far too prematurely.

Some are using the slayings as a catalyst to rekindle a long-festering debate on gun control, a loathsome ploy no matter your own beliefs. A tragedy of this magnitude should never be politicized or used as a forum to advance one’s ideology.

Eventually there will be an appropriate time and place for debate but without using the loss of 20 young lives as a pawn in a political chess match. Unfortunately, gun control laws, no matter how strict, are likely incapable of ultimately preventing a wretched individual from unleashing his or her madness on the innocent.

Polarization must, for the time being at least, give way to cohesiveness. As the country has so many times before in tragedy, we must stand as one, opening our hearts and providing solace and compassion to those whose lives have been forever altered, ready to dry an eye overflowing with the tears of despair.

Locally parents should pay attention to their children and their behaviors. Although the shootings happened thousands of miles away, mental health experts agree the effects, including fear and anxiety, could simmer within all young children.

Parents, experts concur, should be aware of any behavior changes in their children, such as eating habits or not being as talkative. Any changes could be signs of acting out the grief that is internally simmering in a young mind.

Or, as Washington Parish President Richard Thomas said Monday night, “We need to go home and hug our grandchildren and children a little closer.”

That’s one effective way of spreading light amidst the holiday darkness gripping us all because of the maniacal actions of one psychopath.