The Richmond Register


December 16, 2012

Coping in a world spiked by evil and pain

RICHMOND — With facts still trickling in, it’s probably too early to draw any conclusions about what led to the massacre of children and adults Friday at an elementary school in a Connecticut town about about the size of Richmond.

How could anyone have done such a thing? How effective was school security? Was the killer mentally ill? Could the incident been foreseen or prevented?

How did he acquire the weapons? What can we do to prevent something like this from happening? Can anyone ever feel safe?

Does owning firearms make us more or less safe? People may feel safer if they own a gun, but what are the chances that your gun my be used against you or someone you love? Suicides far outnumber murders. Most murder victims know their assailants. Often they are relatives.

Americans haven’t been so shaken since the Sept. 11 terror attacks.

When such violence is perpetrated by “one of our own” rather than outsiders, it’s even more disturbing.

For us in the news business, separating our personal feelings from our professional duties is sometimes difficult.

I had taken the day off Friday because I was due for a break and my younger daughter, Paige, was graduating that evening from the University of Kentucky.

Thanks to the Internet and portable devices that keep us connected even on our days off, I began to realize that we would be affected by a developing story about a most terrible tragedy 800 miles away.

The Register’s three news writers – Ronica Shannon, Crystal Wylie and Sarah Hogsed – all have children about age 2. Like most everyone else, their first instinct Friday was to rush home and wrap their arms around their children.

While I realize how difficult it was for them to complete their work Friday, they stayed on the job and told me I should continue with my plans. In addition to taking care of the editing duties for me, Ronica even managed to write a story that told us how we could better cope with the anxieties that even a distant event can raise in our own hearts.

The photos by Kaitlin Keane of a cheerful event that showed the creative work of children at Mayfield Elementary made an excellent counterpoint for the story in Saturday’s paper about the horrific event at another elementary school in Connecticut.

Ronica wrote about the wonderful folks at Hospice Care Plus, who offered to help the community through the media. We know all about the way Hospice helps ease the physical pain of terminally ill patients. But they also offer professional help in dealing with the pain of grief. As we all know, that kind of pain can be the most hurtful and long lasting of all.

I wouldn’t have thought to turn to Hospice in the kind of emotional crisis that we faced Friday. But when I heard about the advice they had to offer, I really wasn’t surprised. Both the professionals and volunteers of Hospice are trained to deal with those kinds of crises on a daily basis. They are truly instruments of God’s peace every day.

We will never understand why evil persists in the world, just as we will never end it.

What we can do, however, is work at injecting compassion, kindness, healing and comfort into situations we can't control or understand. Just as our friends at Hospice Care Plus do.

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