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Once Upon A Time

What recently occurred in a quiet Connecticut town was no fairy tale.


Once upon a time there was a place where people could buy assault weapons with ease. A land, beautiful and filled with people who loved it, was also a place where television shows promoted deceit, anger and ridicule. Children played on swings while teens looked towards their futures. They also took lots of tests, played violent games and spent hours away from each other communicating via technology. This place had people who cured illness, landed a ship on the moon, sent billions of dollars for aid to other nations and recently raised funds for a town destroyed by a Hurricane. A beautiful yet troubled place – God Bless America.

People from around the world still gravitate to this place called America. They hear of the opportunity. They see the statue in New York that welcomes the tired and the poor. Yes, this place is a wonderful place – much of the time.

Let’s be honest. Who the hell needs an assault weapon? Imagine, we have to debate whether or not it’s a violation of our Second Amendment rights to carry such tools of destruction. Stop it! OK – protect yourself if you feel it is necessary – but with an assault weapon? Who are you expecting – the Taliban? This has to change.

Call me a technophobe but do we have to spend so much time being plugged in? Video games, computers, cell phones, iPods, etc., etc. How many of the young men who opened fire were isolated? I have said it before, a significant number of young people on my caseload are experiencing existential disorders! "Who am I? Where do I fit in? Does my life have meaning? What is my purpose?" These are questions we all ask. It’s difficult finding answers when you’re alone. It’s difficult finding hope when you feel no direction. We can add more police officers and make it more difficult to enter a school – all of which will keep people out. But, what do we do to bring more people together? Will our cure perpetuate the issue?

East Greenwich is a beautiful little New England Town. It has lovely homes, a quaint downtown area, successful parents and bright, talented kids. I write this a few days after the Sandy Hook disaster. My heart breaks for those who lost a loved one. Like millions across the land I have many questions. The answers to some may not come easy. The answers to others are no brainers.

We have created a culture of violence. Guns are sometimes easier to get than an appointment with a mental health specialist. On top of that, so much emphasis has been placed on medication that counseling has gone away from talking things through. Sometimes people just need someone to talk to. What’s up with that?

In the end we can all do something. We can hug our kids. We can be nice to others. We can respect differences of race, religion and culture. We can spend more time with each other. We can reflect on things important. If each of us do those things fewer guns will be necessary and those who are alone can be embraced. 

Fairy tales often begin with "Once Upon A Time." What recently occurred in a quiet Connecticut town was no fairy tale. Realty struck home pretty hard. With some love, hope and hard work we can make new realities. Perhaps too simple? Maybe so. Let’s give it a try anyway. Say a prayer for the families who were touched by the incident in Newtown, Conn. Maybe they can find hope in Christmas.





Alicarn December 18, 2012 at 02:23 PM
This tragedy has to be what changes our country. If not, the blood of these children will be on the hands of all those who oppose common sense gun laws.
jim halsband December 18, 2012 at 03:02 PM
Some mental health disorders respond nicely to talking them through and some couch time with the professionals, some not so much and require more serious methodologies to deal with mental disorders of which there seems to be a growing number. Several brilliant doctors are looking at causation and finding the new modified foods and high sugar loads are a major factor in nutritional brain deficiencies which leads directly to poor brain function. Other causation stems from the role models in life, so let's take a look at some of them, political leaders who have the vitriol to refer to rape as legitimate, set aside context, the sound byte is what resonated and legitimized heightened vitriol. When this unsustainable level of rancor and hostility flows from the top levels of our society, when social issues are ignored and the nation's money is siphoned, resulting in unprecedented destitution, compassion abdicated by threatening to end Medicare for the elderly, some of whom have nothing left. Compassion is the measure of an enlightened society, and when EG is on the top of the list of those least charitable, a community with the highest median income and lowest percentage of charitable donations as shown on tax returns. It seems to me that this country isn't heading toward a fiscal cliff but rapidly approaching a character cliff, snap out of it, do something right now, anything, just do something! It is Christmas! Peace on Earth, Good Will toward men, anyone remember that?
jim halsband December 18, 2012 at 03:06 PM
and once again, I ask you to please sign your comments, thank you, it tends to allay the rancor
DMS December 18, 2012 at 03:51 PM
So much of what is in this article is also in my heart. Thank you Bob. Spread the words. And God be the families who lives have been shatter by the rest of the country's "wake up to reality". Pray for them. They need love and support.
Roberta Quinlan December 18, 2012 at 04:22 PM
I listened to a great speaker over the weekend who offered suggestions to the question, "what can I do?" Here are some: -- include someone whom you have ignored; -- forgive someone who has hurt you; -- visit someone who is alone or shut in; -- call someone who is many miles away; -- give to someone who is in need; -- walk with someone who limps; -- cry for the devastated families; and -- resolve to spend more time with you own.
Chuck Newton December 18, 2012 at 08:41 PM
It is hard to imagine anyone not deeply affected by the shootings in Newtown. The President expressed very well the way I suspect most of us feel. This DOES happen too often to be a satisfactory condition in this country. But a deep breath would be useful before we, or our Congressional leaders, jump off this crisis cliff and start legislating at whim. Whatever caused Adam Lanza to commit this unspeakable act is a complicated question, and quick-fixes won't suffice. Calls are today constant for a ban on assault weapons - I agree - but federal law wasn't and isn't even certain what an assault weapon is. Except for cosmetics, they don't operate a whole lot differently than most of the guns residing in people's closets (For more, see this from the Washington Post: http://wapo.st/Xzk4VM The complicated fixes involve (among other things) mental health issues, government sharing of sensitive personal information, and big, broad, deep issues such as the "culture of violence" in our movies, in our video and computer games, and in our daily lives. I don't thinkl we have much stomach for these because it means time, and it means money, and it means we all have to bear more responsibility for the way we raise our children, the way we each behave, and the way we interact with one another. I am most afraid we will take the easy - but ineffective - way out, and that our short memories will soon allow visions of Sandy Hook Elementary to fade. That would be the real crime...
jim halsband December 18, 2012 at 09:06 PM
Nicely stated and I could not agree more! I had posted an earlier comment suggesting a plan to address the heart of the issue, mental health and a revenue plan to fund new methodologies which would inevitably spring forth from funding in excess of $30 billion annually. Just as Americans love our cars, gun owners love their guns, annual vehicle registration is what we pay for the right to own and drive, plus the billions in the myriad of gasoline tax revenues, federal excise tax, road use tax, etc... For all those with the right to bear arms, should bear the burden of a registration fee to enjoy that right. There are 300 million guns in America, an annual registration fee of $100 per gun will generate $30 billion every year, oh, and tax the hell out of bullets, let's say $10 per round would be a very good start. This windfall would immediately fund the implementation of mental health studies, treatments, and create a great many new jobs. Law enforcement, of course, would be exempt for their service weapon, but the rest of their personal arsenals would be subject to the same fees as the rest of us. There should be a luxury tax of $1000 on assault weapons, just for the hell of it, and the hell that follows in their wake!
Bill Pett December 18, 2012 at 10:20 PM
While Chuck Newton is right to say that there are complicated issues that will need long and close examination, that does not mean we should ignore the obvious things we can do to help ameliorate the situation. We had a ban on assault weapons before but, perhaps tragically, it was allowed to expire. Now is the time to restore that ban, along with enacting bans on oversized ammunition clips. It would, as Chuck says, be wrong to enact a few laws and then forget the problem, but it would be tragically wrong to fail to take the obvious actions. As Bob says, no civilian needs an assault weapon. No hunter or target shooter needs to use rapid fire, and none should be so lazy as to use clips of 30 or 60 bullets. Hunting and target shooting are, or should be, exercises of skill, not chances to get cheap thrills from laying down fire barrages. Given the political muscle exercised by the lobbyists for gun manufacturers, we need to act now while the political will is there.

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