Saturday, December 22, 2012

Things We Lost In The Fire

The title of this post happens to be that of a movie starring Halle Berry and Benicio Del Toro, and directed by Susanne Bier, but I'm not here to talk about that movie today.  I'm here to talk about the massacre of twenty children and six adults at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conneticut. a scant eleven days before Christmas.

Much has been written about the tragedy.  The never-ending debate about gun control in America will certainly shift into high gear over the next while.  But I'm not here to talk about that, either.

There has been and will be much speculation about the motives of gunman Adam Lanza, who first killed his own mother before going on his killing spree.  Was he insane?  Could anyone in a rational state of mind do what he did?  Were there perhaps others behind the scenes, goading him on to commit his gruesome, unspeakable crime?  Beats me, and I'm not here to talk about that, either.

Upon reflecting on this incident, I was reminded of something that Mark Twain once said.  "When a man's house burns down, the smoke and wreckage represents only a ruined home that was once dear to him.  But, as weeks go on, first he misses this, then he misses that.  Like the death of a loved one, it takes months before he realizes he's lost everything."

As saddening and as shocking as the immediate impact of this tragedy is, I don't think anyone yet understands the full impact of what has been lost. Was one of the children who died that day a future Einstein, Beethoven or Ghandi?  Did the doctor who would someday find a cure for cancer die that day?  Perhaps it was the person who would finally find a way to reconcile the Arabs and the Jews and bring a lasting peace to the Middle East.  The first person to walk on Mars might never go there now.

We may never know just what was lost in the "fire" that engulfed Sandy Hook Elementary on the 14th of December, 2012.  Perhaps that's just as well.  Otherwise, who could bear it?

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