Moving Forward with Empathy

The tragedy that struck Newtown, Connecticut last Friday has us all walking a little slower and cherishing our loved ones a little more — and I am no different.  I was at work when I heard the news.  My entire office of early childhood professionals was rocked to the core.  We all felt for the families, the community, the victims.  But my heart really goes out to all the children involved.

My entire professional life has been solely dedicated to children.  As a researcher and a psychologist in early childhood, I am consistently involved in discovering ways to enhance the lives of our young people, in every phase of their life.  Events that put children in danger knocks the wind out of me.  I am still trying to make sense of it all.

The events from last week are beyond tragic and I have gone back and forth, upside down and sideways in my thoughts, trying to grasp my own perspective.  My emotions are getting the better of me and this is where I find my views converging: who is to blame for this?  What is the answer to prevent these tragedies from occurring?  I then realized that I was too emotional to think straight, which goes against the researcher in me.  Before we can begin to talk about the various issues this tragic event has brought up, it is important to remove emotion and talk specifically about future actions.  This is nearly impossible.  I am a researcher driven by facts and data, but when my heart is being pulled left and right the opportunity for action is difficult.  I, like so many in the US, want nothing more than to protect those who can’t protect themselves.  But how do we do that?  To discuss this and come up with a concrete plan of action, emotion needs to be removed.  I do not mean to imply that I am not heartbroken.  I am, but there are facts about this incident that can not be ignored, no matter where you fall on each issue.  Whether it is gun control, mental health issues, parenting styles, or community safety, emotion clouds our judgement and eliminates the possibilities for compromise and healing.

We all have different experiences and perspectives, and disagreements.  These perspectives shape our career, relationships and choices.  The freedom we have as citizens in this country is truly amazing.  A 20-year-old man took away the power and freedom of 26 people in a devastating way.  We move forward by ensuring that all citizens rights are not infringed upon, ever again.  You may not agree with your neighbor, or the politician in a neighboring state, but we need to find a way to agree on a course of action that continually supports our freedoms and gives voices to the voiceless.  We are a country of brilliant, kind, generous individuals.  It is time we show more of that and less hatred and aggression.  It is time to put our emotions aside, stop pointing fingers, and find answers to the many questions going through our minds.  The best thing we can do is seek to understand.  Understand why violence is so prominent in our culture.  Understand how an individual could spiral so low to cause so much heartbreak.  And most importantly, understand how to maintain our freedoms and build a system of support everyone needs.

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2 thoughts on “Moving Forward with Empathy

  1. Beautifully written. I’m SO proud of you. I think our country would get along fine without oozies and assault rifles in the hands of ordinary citizens. And I grew up a hunter with shotguns and rifles in the house. But, I sold my shotgun 30 years ago and haven’t missed it for a minute. People in most other countries get along without owning guns; why can’t we? In memory of those 27 innocent victims AND the 45 or so other people who will liae their lives across the country TODAY to gun violence. It’s really sad that the Newtown and Aurora, Colorado massacres each triggered an INCREASE in gun sales nationwide. This has got to stop!

  2. be a part of that conversation!

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