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.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.