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Are We All Powerless? Dealing with Tragedy

Are We All Powerless? Dealing with Tragedy

What is so upsetting about some 20 children being brutally and senselessly murdered in their classroom in Newtown, CT last week? Why is this shocking? After similar, albeit lesser, massacres that have stained the headlines with near equal shock, you would think we would have grown desensitized to such shocking displays of cruelty and brutality. But the fact is, we are human, and as cynical and hopeless as we may sometimes feel, we can’t help clinging to the idea that we are collectively better than our worst misdeeds.

Even a cursory read of the events that transpired on Friday December 14th, as well as the events leading up to the day, give you a sense that the movement toward such violence was borne out of a great deal of pain, which in turn, will lead to an amplification of such pain. While it is difficult to know the exact source or cause of the pain Adam Lanza may have been struggling with (and we will probably never really know) it is safe to say such a grotesque display of aggression was his feeble attempt to gather some power, from an otherwise powerless life. And as one form of cruelty begets another, so does one form of powerlessness. And here we are, the collective survivors left to feel horrendously saddened and powerless.

While the world can be an arbitrarily cruel place, and we really exhibit only a modicum of control over our lives, do we really need to feel powerless in the face of such violent acts? We could change the existing gun laws, or maybe revamp mental health benefits (maybe both). We could reach out to children and parents alike, who may be quietly struggling, and trying to quell a near explosive situation, and provide some much needed compassion and assistance. Or we could go on the defensive and do whatever we can to provide some sense of security in a wildly insecure world.

How will you address the situation at hand? Is there something you are currently involved with that you feel really address the threat and the tragedy we are all desperately trying to manage? How will you feel powerful again?
Related:
How to Talk to Your Kids about the Sandy Hook School Shooting
Actually, Mentally Ill People are More Likely to Be Victims of Violence
A Timeline of Mass Shootings in the US Since Columbine


Read more: Blogs, Caregiving, Children, Depression, Family, Healthy Schools, Life, Mental Wellness, Parenting at the Crossroads, Stress, Teens, , , , , , , ,

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Eric Steinman

Eric Steinman is a freelance writer based in Rhinebeck, NY. He regularly writes about food, music, art, architecture, and culture and is a regular contributor to Bon Appétit among other publications.

69 comments

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9:57AM PST on Jan 21, 2013

Ivy t. WHERE in the world did you get all that from my coment ? WOW!

7:23AM PST on Jan 21, 2013

Carol M., Do you actually believe all people who have a medical imbalance resulting in a mental disorder have no way of being helped and are inherently evil? I am guessing a lot of them believe in God too, so how do you explain that? What about disorders created by physical brain injuries for instance, when they got hit in the head I guess they accepted the Devil or somethng? Oh my. Science has discovered ways to help them and has nothing to do with believing in God. Saying there is nothing anyone can do to change things is ridiculous and ignorant of things we as a society CAN and SHOULD do. Does the Bible say to do nothing, or to try to do things to help yourself and fellow man? Then you say a person's mental health and their actions is ALL the Mothers' fault...I guess Fathers do not exist, but that is just ridiculous as well. Yes there are many dysfunctional families, even more reason for better Mental Health availability (not saying there is nothing you can do and it is all the Devil's fault, for Pete's sake.) Perhaps that mother was right, if that Mother's kids do something wrong she should call the Police (we really do not know the whole story there).

5:10PM PST on Dec 27, 2012

Sue, I do know why these things are happening such as 12/14/12 but even so it rendered me sick to my stomach. Your right guns are not the problem just as cars are not the killers of innocent people by drunk drivers. The bible says it all 1 john 5:19 " the whole world is lying in the power of the wicked one" Mankind was given a perfect start , but humans have chosen to ignore God`s requirements and decide for themselves what is good and what is bad . Deut. 32:4,5 Eccl. 7:29 Gen. 3:5,6 By doing this , they have come under the influence of wicked superhuman forces Eph. 6:11,12 2Tim. 3:1-3 tells about these days we are in.
Kids today are the way they are because like your neighbors the mother isn`t being a real mother and taking control of her children , No she tells you to take control by calling the police if there is a problem . So , theres really nothing you can do, my advice would be stay clear ....

10:04PM PST on Dec 26, 2012

Thank you.

9:58PM PST on Dec 26, 2012

I have neighbors, young kids who have no respect for no one. I am the only one who stands up and tells them NO. I am afraid of them. their mom tells me to call the cops if there is a problem. and all this continues. if I was their mother, they would not be living with me. suck that i have to deal with them.
any suggestions?

9:51PM PST on Dec 26, 2012

this tragedy that happened on 12/14/12 rendered me ..... I was unable to understand why someone could do this.
but I was frozen. I
know grief I don't know what is happenening,
Guns are not the problem. my heart is breaaking, still.
how do we address the emotions, how do we bring back respect and manners to our society!?

1:44PM PST on Dec 22, 2012

Yes we do, Marie

1:34AM PST on Dec 21, 2012

At the heart of all human problems and horrific incidents like this one is a simple but barely talked about solution. The great masters all talked about the "madness" that is within the human mind. They understood that the human "ego", required to keep us alive in our physical bodies, can go out of control unless we become aware that this is happening. To become aware we have to be in "balance" between our physical and spiritual lives. Basic meditation techniques if practised regularly will bring us the awareness and balance and enlightenment we need.
We must also be constantly aware that we are the creative power in our lives through our thoughts and actions. Negative thoughts bring negative situations into our lives and vice versa. Our physicists are now proving this as they gain an understanding of how we affect matter at the sub atomic level.
How we start to put a brake on the "madness" and stop human beings killing each other as they have been doing for thousands of years is not easy. We have to start remembering who we are - a spirit living a physical life to learn and experience before returning home. If we fail then we will come back time and time again until we succeed. As we travel through the cusp between the piscean and aquarian ages we are seeing the karmic results of appalling human behaviour. We can create a "heaven on earth" if we can only start to experience the peace and happiness within the meditational state that is our birthright. Then we can understan

8:29PM PST on Dec 20, 2012

My heart and prayers go to all who have been affected. I am not an American, I do not have a magic solution to make the world a safer place but I do have some thoughts on this first day of winter.

In the developed world, free of civil war, no one needs a gun at home, of any kind. Guns are designed and manufactured to threaten and kill, and they have no place in our lives or day-to-day interactions with our fellow beings. Not having a gun or guns at home would not leave us poorer.

We need to develop our trust in our societies and their capacity to protect us and look after us in times of danger. That's why we live in groups, for me, that is why we live in communities. Let us strengthen our sense of inclusive community, our sense of service.

11:31AM PST on Dec 20, 2012

Marie Theresa .... Your right doing away with guns is not the answere because only the dishonest one and those who commits these crimes will have them. We as parents should demand an end to these violent video games our lids play and the violent movies our children
watch. But then who can stop all of this only our creator .

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Disclaimer: The views expressed above are solely those of the author and may not reflect those of
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Supermarkets like nice looking vegetables but they all taste the same.

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