Toward the end of 2012, our world was rocked by the devastating attack on an elementary school in Newtown, Connecticut, where 27 people tragically lost their lives. It was horrifying to watch the story unfold on television, and impossible to fully imagine what people there have been experiencing and feeling. Our thoughts and prayers go out to the entire community, and especially those who lost loved ones.
Anytime something like this happens—and there have been many similar, although different situations around the world through the years—our human minds go immediately to the question, “WHY?” We dig for clues, examining a person’s upbringing, friends, employment history, mental stability, the presence of diagnoses (physical, emotional, mental), financial circumstances, exposure to bullying (both past and present), access to violent video games and movies and weapons, and more.
Examining every aspect of a person’s life can possibly help us learn more about how to prevent such tragedies in the future. It can help us try to understand the reasons behind a person’s violent, destructive decisions, as if this would help rationalize it or bring some peace.
Yet there is a danger in trying to make sense of such senseless acts. Regarding the attack in Newtown, I have heard and read news pointing to the assailant’s dysfunctional home life, diagnosis of Asperger Syndrome, possible imminent hospitalization for mental illness, training and access to firearms, and use of violent video games.
The reality is that there is no way to make sense of such a senseless act. Most people raised in dysfunctional homes, diagnosed with Asperger Syndrome (or any other diagnosis), struggling with mental illness, using or owning firearms, or playing violent video games, do not go into elementary schools and gun down defenseless children and staff members.
Although we can’t make sense of the choices this person made that day in December, we can do all that we can to make the world a better place by advocating for those who need additional services to help them fit into society or manage personal struggles (whether mental/emotional, physical, financial, etc.), giving people meaningful activities to engage their time and talents and form valuable connections within the community, providing support to parents, grandparents, and school staff who are helping individuals to reach their full potential, and disseminating accurate information about diagnoses such as Autism/ Asperger Syndrome, ADHD, Bi-Polar, Anxiety, Depression, and more. (That’s what Social Incites, LLC is here for! Find out more on this site!)
Best wishes to each of you in the New Year, as you continue to grow personally and interpersonally!