When my eldest daughter was 5, I took her off to school as usual, by lunchtime the news was full of the massacre at a school in Dunblane, Scotland. When I collected my daughter that afternoon, as she ran out across the playground, I gathered her in my arms and hugged her very tightly, thanking God that she was there for the hugging. As we walked home the usual chatter from the day ensued but I, like every mother in the land, tucked my children in a little more tightly that night, kissed them more lovingly and lingered a little longer to watch them in their sleep. For a good while I made sure there were no cross words in the mornings and gave big hugs goodbye, but soon real life continued, normality of cross words and morning niggles.
It will be an extremely long time before any parent of a child from Sandy Hook School will have a day that is anything close to normal. It is out of the natural order of life for a child to die before the parent and is, most certainly, the hardest pain to bear. I watched President Obama's address yesterday, I saw his tears and felt the pain in his heart. He must have slept fitfully last night for he is a good man, caring and thoughtful and must, in some way, have felt a sense of responsibility at his and Congress' failure to address the gun culture in the US. After the Dunblane massacre the Snowdrop petition was started some 700,000 people signed it, all wanting the law changed so the ownership of handguns would be banned, the law was changed. It would be an extremely onerous task to outlaw handguns but the fact that per head of population the death rate, due to shooting, is 50 times lower in the UK than the US must indicate that we did the only sane thing. The American's site the right of a free citizen to own a gun, is it not also the right for a child to be safe in their classroom? Wake up America, is now not the time to follow our lead?
“The true test of the American ideal is whether we’re able to recognise our failings and then rise together to meet the challenges of our time. Whether we allow ourselves to be shaped by events and history, or whether we act to shape them.” Barack Obama Feb 5th 2008
Let yours be the generation that said enough and now we must change, as President Obama said yesterday 'now is the time to heal the brokenhearted and bind up their wounds', help the healing by making their deaths be the catalyst for that change.