As we wait for answers about the tragic and senseless violence visited upon children not only in Newtown, CT, but also in China on Friday, and Alabama Saturday morning, we need to ask ourselves: how far will we go to change the world? The next few days and months stress going to bring accusations and debate. They will likely leave us more horrified, more baffled and more angry. Nothing said or done will make this right, but that is no reason to stand by and let things remain the same.
In every nation, in every community, we need to be having conversations about ending violence, about keeping children safe, about physical, mental and spiritual health. We need to have conversations about justice and tolerance and sharing. These must be conversations, not shouting matches where neither side listens to the other. It should not be led by fundamentalists (of any variety), it should exclude lobbyists from powerful groups with agendas, and it should be respectful and particularly focused on the needs of children and other vulnerable groups. This conversation needs to use facts and logic and compassion, and it should never be a platform for someone to force their religious views on the rest of us, and it should not be used to justify the murders of children.
It's up to us to change the world, to guide the conversations our lawmakers will be having. We can do this peacefully, respectfully, and with hearts committed to making a world in which children are safe to go to school to learn, in which mental illness is something to treat not something to stigmatize, and in which the needs and rights of everyone are in balance.