How Can You Sit Idly By?

Last week I had the honour of attending and helping out with a hearing in Newtown, CT about the effect of the Sandy Hook tragedy on the community. Hundreds of people came to talk for a few minutes to the legislature’s task force about how the tragedy impacted them, and to give ideas about how to keep children and the state safe in the future. For much of the hearing, there wasn’t a dry eye in the house. Everyone in Newtown was affected by the shooting in some way, whether personally, or through a dear friend. This is no small potatoes for them.

Ribbon for Newtown Remembrance

Ribbon for Newtown Remembrance

I’m not going to talk about the policies that were discussed or even what was said. The one thing that struck me more than any proposals or any legislation was how polite everyone was. Even though many people felt like they were fighting for their very identity, they were compassionate and polite to their neighbors. Let me explain. On one side of the debate, you have families who have had people they love ripped from their lives without much explanation. On the other side, you have people who believe their rights are possibly being taken away from them. It reminded a bit of the internet’s reaction to SOPA. We were fighting for our passions, and in some ways, our very existence.

Going back to the hearing, few people were noisy in their opposition or support, and even fewer were rude (which, honestly, is not a very common occurrence at legislative hearings). I felt, while watching people testify and writing down their words, that there was just a faint hint of pain in the air. People were talking about saving their families, of protecting their loved ones and their children, and that passion, that pain is something which can’t easily be described.

Honestly, I’m proud of my state. I’m proud of my neighbors that we can come together, sit down politely, and talk about things that hurt us so deeply without getting horribly insulting. Sure, there were a few people who gave some rather cutting remarks, and hit others’ buttons, but at the end of the night, as we all got in our cars to go home, the prevailing feeling was pain, not anger. Our families are broken, our friends are gone, but we can still take a step back and try to find what will keep this from happening again. Honestly, I think we all could learn from Newtown, how to come together and put aside differences in favour of polite debate to truly find what will make our world a safer, better place.

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  1. Mary

    February 6, 2013 at 1:01 pm

    I live in the midwest so we’re pretty removed from Newtown. However, the day of the shooting everyone was talking about it. The week of the shooting, everyone was posting on facebook about it. The same pictures kept circling around, everyone was expressing their sadness for this loss. However, this article made me realize that in the past month or so, I haven’t seen or heard anything about Newtown. Obviously, the community is still broken and grieving but since we’re 1,000 miles away we’ve moved on to something else. It makes me wonder what we can change so that we support these communities for the long run instead of just moving on once it’s not the hot topic anymore.

    • Quinn Kess

      February 6, 2013 at 11:38 pm

      I grew up in the midwest, actually, so I know what it’s like to almost always be disconnected from everything. I think the conversation about gun control is still going on, but it’s really left the press, almost more quickly than other shootings. A large part of me is peeved about that, but the press sometimes just… does what it wants to.

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