An unimaginable tragedy

December 21, 2012 

None of us wanted to believe it.

Even the darkest depths of our minds, we couldn’t fathom the realities that were being set out before us – that scores of children could be dead at the hands of a madman.

Sweet, innocent children.

It defies logic. It bends our brains. It sends our thoughts into an area we’ve never allowed ourselves to go.

It’s not that imagining what happened in that Connecticut grade school on Dec. 14 is impossible. It’s that we’ve never allowed ourselves to go to that horrible place.

A gunman against children, something so chilling that as we envision that gruesome scene, we immediately are filled with a myriad of emotions – extreme sorrow, rage, anger, compassion and confusion.

Of them all, here’s the one we have to remember during this time – mercy. As in mercy for ourselves.

The news reports over the weekend were increasingly tough to watch.

As the news agencies compiled and disseminated information, we knew we were going to get to the worst part soon enough – the release of the names and photos of the deceased.

What started as stunned and incomprehensible thoughts soon turned to tears, then to a raw and emotional need to see and hold our own kids, grandkids and those closest to us.

As we watched wall-to-wall coverage from this small town and heard stories of heroism and heartache emerge, many wanted to find blame in something, anything.

Because, in times of ultimate stress and inexplicable circumstances, that’s what we do.

Few people were immune, especially on the social media circuits.

We went after guns, we went after God – or a lack of Him in our schools – we went after the press, after video games, the culture of violence. Everything we could point to, we did.

Seemingly unscathed from this culpability was the monster that killed 20 children, six educators and his own mother. I’m not going to mention his name. He doesn’t deserve it.

But this, my friends, is the time when we need to show mercy. To ourselves.

This is hardly the time to pick sides, political battles or draw lines between God and guns. It is time to show ourselves and the families of those killed a tremendous amount of mercy.

There is no greater time for that than after a tragedy of this magnitude. And although it has been more than five days since it happened, it is not too late to start.

Show yourself compassion to feel however this event makes you feel. And show your fellow man some kindness and leniency, too.

Because the healing process has just begun.

And, surely, helping this community and one another heal is one thing we should all be able to agree upon.

John Beaudoin is the publisher of the The Cass County Democrat Missourian. To comment, call 816-380-3228 or e-mail

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