The Wednesday Weigh-In: How are we doing in the aftermath of Sandy Hook?

Image of Newtown mourners via CBS Morning News

Today’s post is technically more of a check-in than a weigh-in. But I hope in light of recent events you’ll forgive my semantic oversight.

We’ve covered the Sandy Hook shooting with heavy hearts.

Today, the Daily Beast and others are pointing out that our responses to the shooting have been gendered. A recent survey by the Pew Research Center for the People & the Press, for example, found that women are more likely than men to view the shootings as reflecting broader societal problems in American society, by 54% to 37%. In contrast, men express the opposite view: 51% say that shootings like this “are just the isolated acts of troubled individuals.”

While many of us are simply bystanders to the Sandy Hook violence, and our grief cannot be compared to that of the victims’ families and their communities, it is important for us to recognize the effect that this shooting is also having on each of us personally and on our collective well being as a community and a nation.

I can personally say that, along with the rest of the country and the world, I have been at once horrified, transfixed, and deeply affected by the news of the shooting and subsequent media coverage. I’ve had nightmares about school violence and cried more than once at the stories of trauma, grief, and resilience that have slowly leaked out of Newtown. I find myself clinging onto each of the details I learn of the victims’ lives: from a newspaper photo or an anecdote  taken from one of the victims’ eulogies. I find myself hungry to know more about the victims as they were in life than I do about the gory details of their deaths; to be able to humanize them in my mind seems to be of paramount importance in helping to comprehend and somehow move forward from this national tragedy. 

In Monday’s “What We Missed,” Katie linked to a piece by Selena Sermeno, former Director of the Bartos Institute at the United World College-USA and an expert in the constructive engagement of conflict, on letting your heart break in light of the Sandy Hook shooting. In that beautiful piece, Sermeno writes:

“Hearts are broken all over the world, and yet, the immediate temptation, during tragedies like these, is to go to an analytic place—to speculate and to blame. But in so doing, we miss a chance for humility and human connection. We miss a chance to emotionally reckon with the best and worst of humanity…

…Parker Palmer, author of Healing the Heart of Democracy, writes that we have two choices in dark nights of the soul: to break apart or to break open. One choice leads us down the path to bitterness and brittleness, to distance ourselves from people and their capacity for beauty and kindness. The other leads us down the path to vulnerability, gentleness, deep and lasting connection.

Stay out of your head, at least for a moment, and let your heart break open.”

So with that in mind, we turn to today’s weigh-in:

How are you doing in the aftermath of the Sandy Hook massacre?

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2 Comments

  1. Posted December 19, 2012 at 2:31 pm | Permalink

    Thank you for this check-in. I think it’s something we forget to do with each other on a daily basis and even after a tragedy. The more time that passes, the less attention I see paid to Newtown.

    I grew up in Newtown for the first 15 out of my 24 years. Now that I live elsewhere, it has been really difficult to process what’s happened through just news reporting and images. I will head back home to CT for the holiday this weekend and am nervous to see how my hometown has changed.

  2. Posted December 19, 2012 at 5:47 pm | Permalink

    How are we doing?

    We’re following the video game tradition of prettifying and romanticizing it, that’s how we’re doing.

    The long-haired and slender principal’s photo appears everywhere. The school psychologist, who was 56 years old and a little pudgy, died just as heroically but doesn’t have her picture on the front pages as often. And the most repeated photo of the child victims, at least in my area, is a little blue eyed blonde girl–coincidence that the blue eyed blonde is the victim ideal in video games?

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