The answer, of course, is too complicated to pin down, though for several days, maybe even weeks, we'll try. Essays will be written about gun legislation, violent video games, and broken homes. I get it. Because, well , here I am, playing with words like they're part of a puzzle, try to make them fit in just the right way so that I can understand.
As is the way these days, people reacted on Facebook and in comments sections on articles. We tweeted and "liked" and "shared". We mourned and cried. We hugged and sighed. We worried and "whyed".
Every few years or months or weeks, something like this happens, and we dump the puzzle pieces out on the kitchen table. Maybe we find the corners first and it starts to take shape, but we get too busy or too overwhelmed. We toss the whole thing back in the box, a thousand pieces bumping against each other as we shove it back in the closet.
Until, all too soon, we're forced to try again.
There are so many things I want my words to say right now. I want to talk about the media, and guns, and broken homes, too. I want to examine the role of age and gender and to call for more sustained research on this topic. I started to write all that.
But then, I thought maybe we expect our words to do too much.
Of course, words do plenty. They express grief and confusion. Then, they fail us. Because they don't solve. We throw up our hands and say, "What can we do?" Perhaps, The Onion said it best yesterday. "Following the fatal shooting this morning at a Connecticut elementary school that left at least 27 dead, including 20 small children, sources across the nation shook their heads, stifled a sob in their voices, and reported fuck everything. Just fuck it all to hell."
Agreed. I mean really, what the hell is the point anymore?
I wish I had the words to solve this. Oh sure, I've got ideas, and I'm lucky enough to have a job where I get to talk to people all day about the things that I think will most help. All of that is too much for this space.
But really it comes down to this message someone in my Facebook feed posted yesterday. "Love more, hate less."
Because in times like these, it's easy to be consumed by hate and fear. To blame and accuse. To pull away. To trust less. To call for more security. But none of that solves our brokenness.
It seems to me that it's exactly the opposite of what we need.
I say let's go the opposite direction. Love more. Trust more. Open up. Let in. Get close. Not just the people we already know and love.
Certainly, words are one way to show love because it's clear we know how to use them to hate. However, words alone don't complete puzzle.
I have no idea who started it, but I am in love with this idea: "In honor of those 20 innocent lives lost, we are going to do 20 Acts of Kindness this month. One in honor of each child. This world does not need more sadness...it needs more kindness, more love, more positive."
Action, maybe that's the missing piece.