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Tuesday, December 18, 2012

In an imperfect world, words fail

Posted By on Tue, Dec 18, 2012 at 4:00 AM

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Sometimes, words fail.

In a perfect world, someone might be able to make sense of a day in which a 20-year-old man goes into an elementary school in Connecticut and kills 26 people — 20 of them children under the age of 10.

In a perfect world, someone might be able to use words to heal the pain of grieving parents, brothers, sisters, spouses, grandparents and friends.

In a perfect world, someone might be able to cast away the trouble and reassure all the children and parents that they are safe from harm and far removed from the havoc evil and madness can wreak upon the innocent.

But this is not a perfect world.

If it were, at least 26 people in Connecticut — again, 20 of them children under the age of 10 – still would be alive.

Instead, even for those who survived todayÕs massacre, the classrooms and hallways of Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown always will be haunted places. And the children who endured the horror will carry it with them for the rest of their lives.

Those who have read my columns through the years know my feeling about guns and the gun lobby and may expect another impassioned appeal for some form of gun control.

But I canÕt do it.

This is too big. This tragedy is too immense for arguments.

Close readers also will know my feelings about governmentÕs abdication of support and care for the mentally ill. And they may be waiting for another polemic on that.

Again, I canÕt do it.

This is too big for that, too.

Instead, I will make a plea.

Instead of arguing about guns or government services or taxes, can we agree on just one thing? Can we agree that when 26 people – again, 20 of them children under the age of 10 – are killed for no reason, we have a problem? Can we agree that children should not fear being shot to death in the classrooms where they practice their ABCs and memorize their multiplication tables? Can we agree that we owe this to our children?

I ask this because IÕve seen too many stories like this. IÕve interviewed too many parents and siblings who have had their kids killed. IÕve talked to too many people who have had huge wounds carved into their souls by this kind of mindless horror.

I donÕt want to hear any more of those stories. I donÕt want to do any more of those interviews. I donÕt want to have more of those conversations.

I just want the kids to be safe.

If giving everyone guns will make this country safer for kids, I am for that. If taking every gun away from everyone will make this country safer for kids, I am for that. If taking some guns away and keeping others will make this country safer for kids, I am for that.

I donÕt care about the guns.

I just want the kids to be safe.

Similarly, if it costs me more money in taxes to see that mentally ill people donÕt roam our streets doing harm to themselves and others, I donÕt care.

I just want the kids to be safe.

I say that because I think that is something upon which we all — regardless of ideology or party affiliation — agree. No one sane wants to see a child suffer.

Or die.

In a perfect world, someone could make us all see that the things we spend all of our time arguing about — guns, taxes, etc. — are far less important than the things upon which we all agree. In a perfect world, someone could get us to seek out our areas of agreement, however small they might be, and build on them so that we make our streets, our communities and, yes, our schools safer for our children.

But we donÕt live in a perfect world.

Instead, we live in a world in which at least 26 people — 20 of them children under the age of 10 — get killed in a Connecticut elementary school less than two weeks before Christmas.

Sometimes, words fail.

John Krull is director of Franklin CollegeÕs Pulliam School of Journalism, host of ÒNo LimitsÓ WFYI 90.1 FM Indianapolis and executive editor of TheStatehouseFile.com, a news website powered by Franklin College.

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