I never knew joy, anger or sadness until I became a parent – Thoughts following Sandy Hook

A confirmed bachelor type friend of mine asked me recently why people have children.  If you penciled it out, it just didn’t make sense, he was explaining.

I knew he was right… there’s nothing that makes sense about having kids, especially these days.  They’re expensive as can be.  They restrict your lifestyle for decades.  They’re not always perfect… although mine happens to be.  And you constantly worry for their safety today and about their future tomorrow… and even the fleeting thought of them leaving you can rip your heart to shreds.

And yet, I if I had but one wish, it would be to go back in time over and over again forever to the day my daughter was born so I could live my life again and again as she grows into an adult.  Although I didn’t know it before she was born, I never even knew of joy, anger or sadness until I became a parent.

I know that everybody felt the loss of yesterday.  But I know that every parent felt it more.  What happened on Friday was every human tragedy I’ve ever considered rolled into one and multiplied into infinity.  I know how every parent felt when they heard about what happened at Sandy Hook Elementary School… except for the parents whose children are gone today.

No one can know how they feel.  I wanted to write something meaningful about their loss, but all I can think is that I would scream and weep and feel unbearable pain until I was sedated.  That’s right… I think about what happened on Friday and in my mind all I can do is thank God for pharmaceutical companies.  And that’s nothing to laugh at, I could not be more serious.


There is nothing I can say about Friday.  All I can do is hope to suppress any thoughts about it so I can go on with my life.


I pray for the parents of the children that were senselessly taken away on Friday… I pray that those that have other children at home find some way to go on.  For a parent who lost their only child on Friday, I pray that they come up with a reason to go on.




I Read the News…


Newtown, Connecticut ranked number 5 in Top 100 list of safest American cities.


“It’s alarming, especially in Newtown, Connecticut, which we always thought was the safest place in America,” Stephen Delgiadice told CBS.  His 8 year-old daughter who attends the school was not physically harmed.


Lisa Bailey, a Newtown resident with three children in Newtown schools.  Newtown is a quiet town. I’d never expect this to happen here. It’s so scary. Your kids are not safe anywhere.”  (CBSNews-NY)


And yet, somehow today, 28 are dead, including the gunman’s mother, and 20 of the dead were young children between 5 and 10 years old.


The President on Television… 


The president paused involuntarily and it appeared, for longer than he wanted to.  He wiped away the beginnings of a tear, suppressing the emotion in order to say that as a nation we’ve been through this too many times over the last few years.  It’s exactly what I had been thinking.


Then he said we have to take “meaningful action” to prevent this from happening again… regardless of the politics involved.


I looked away from the television in disgust as I realized that we’re about to have another inane debate over gun control.  Oh God, Mr. President… please, not now.


I turned on my computer… “Obama remains committed to trying to renew a ban on assault weapons, Carney said.” (Reuters)


Click away… no, please no.


Reuters reported: Dan Holmes, owner of a landscaping firm, described Nancy Lanza as an avid gun collector who once showed him a “high-end rifle” that she had purchased.

“She said she would often go target shooting with her kids,” he said.

He also described her as “very nice, very pleasant,” adding that just last week she had decorated her yard with Christmas garlands and lights.


Why is there always something like that in these stories?  What was it in Columbine?  Like, was it a Grandfather with a weapons arsenal in the basement… something like that?  And the NRA crowd will be saying, “Guns don’t kill people, people kill people.”


Yeah, well… technically I think it’s the bullets that do most of the actual killing, but the guns help too, right?  Without the guns, we’d just see people throwing bullets at each other, and that seems unlikely to ever result in 20 dead kids.  I’ll tell you this… I know it’s not the guns that caused this to happen, but regardless… this is one of those moments when the NRA should just do whatever they’re going to do quietly.


Next, we would be attempting in vain to explain what happened.  Who could have done this?  Who or what could we find on which to place the blame?


On Fox News, Mike Huckabee, the consummate jackass, managed to blame it on taking prayer out of schools, and in so doing, made yesterday’s unthinkable tragedy into a political statement.  In one run-on, nonsensical sentence he managed to sully and even blacken religion at a time when religious faith is God’s greatest gift to mankind.  Had I been standing in front of him, I would have slapped him across the face.


Here’s what the Huckster said.  I’m printing it here because it will be the last time I know what he has said.


“We ask why there’s violence in our schools, but we’ve systematically removed God from our schools.  Should we be so surprised that schools would become a place of carnage, because we’ve made it a place where we don’t want to talk about eternity… life… what responsibility means… accountability… that we’re not just going to have to be accountable to the police if they catch us, but one day we stand before a Holy God in judgement.  If we don’t believe that then we don’t fear that.  Sometimes when people say, why did God let that happen, I say, God wasn’t armed, he didn’t go to the school.”


I’m sorry, but I hope horrible things for that man.


Next, it was the examination of Adam Lanza, a name I pray to forget.


Peter and Nancy Lanza divorced in 2008, according to Hearst Connecticut. Peter Lanza reportedly works as vice president of taxes for GE Energy Financial Services.

“He was a very quiet kid,” an unidentified friend said. “I remember being his only friend in elementary school. He was always a really nice kid, very polite.”


Why is it that anyone thinks that a “quiet” kid is in any way okay?  Kids aren’t supposed to be quiet.  I taught Social Studies to 5th and 6th graders a few years back, and I had only one quiet kid in the class.  I worry about that child to this day.


Here’s Chris Francescani, writing for Reuters“The life of Adam Lanza will be dissected, analyzed and re-analyzed in the days to come as investigators dig into the background of the 20-year-old, who law enforcement sources say returned to his elementary school and opened fire. Thus far, there are clues, but no answers.”


What clues are there that add up to what happened on Friday?  Quiet plus divorced parents plus heavy metal music plus long hair plus violent video games equals mass murderer of young children?  You know, Jim Morrison and The Doors told me to kill my father and have sex with my mother when I was young… but I didn’t do it.


This is the end

Beautiful friend

This is the end

My only friend, the end


It’s a song.  It’s art.  Take what you want and leave the rest.


And then…


According to The Berkshire Eagle“The 20-year-old may have suffered from a personality disorder, law enforcement officials said.”


Well, let’s hope so… and at the very least.  I’d hate to think Adam’s behavior would end up being considered anything less.  And thank you for that insightful comment.


Okay, so Mom collects guns, loves Christmas and taking the kids to target practice.  Dad’s a divorced corporate VP who has moved to the city to drive a Mini Cooper and chase 28 year-old tail.  So far, they’re an updated version of Ward and June Clever… if the Beaver knew how to pack heat.


Memo to parents with “quiet” kids: Talk to them until they stop being so quiet and please don’t teach them how to shoot anything.


A headline written by Jillian Mincer, writing for Reuters, said: “Connecticut school could not have prevented shooting, experts say.”


“U.S. school districts have spent millions of dollars on metal detectors, security cameras and elaborate emergency-response plans since the 1999 massacre at Columbine High School, but almost nothing could have prevented Friday’s massacre at a Connecticut elementary school, security experts say.”


Of course, that’s true.  Schools can’t prevent anything by buying stuff.  It’s the people inside the schools that may be able to prevent things from happening by caring and talking to children as they are developing into adults.  It’s the parents that may be able to prevent things too, but not by collecting guns and decorating their yards.  Those are things you do AFTER you’ve raised wonderful children who are excited about their futures.  Until, then… it’s not about your hobby or your home’s exterior.  You’ve got work to do inside the home.


I apologize for that.  But, damn it anyway.


Again, quoting from a story in the The Berkshire Eagle… “He (Adam) was an honors student who lived in a prosperous neighborhood with his mother, a well-liked woman who enjoyed hosting dice games and decorating the house for the holidays.”

“Lanza and his mother, Nancy, lived in a well-to-do part of Newtown, a prosperous community of 27,000 people about 60 miles northeast of New York City.”

“A neighbor in Newtown, Rhonda Cullens, said she knew Nancy Lanza from monthly get-togethers the neighborhood women had a few years back for games of bunco, a dice game.”

“She was a very nice lady,” Cullens said. ‘She was just like all the rest of us in the neighborhood, just a regular person.’”

“The neighborhood’s great. We have young kids, and they have lots of friends,” he said. “If you drive past this neighborhood, it gives you a really warm feeling.”

“He described the area as a subdivision of well-tended, 15-year-old homes on lots of an acre or more, where many people work at companies like General Electric, Pepsi and IBM. Some are doctors, and his next-door neighbor is a bank CEO, said Kapur, a project manager at an information technology firm.”

“Lanza killed his mother at their home before driving her car to Sandy Hook Elementary School and – armed with at least two handguns – carried out the massacre, officials said.  So far, authorities have not spoken publicly of any possible motive.”


Never a motive.  How could there be a motive for what he did?


None of that will matter, however, we’re still going to turn this into a political rugby match over gun control and personal responsibility.  Because Newton is obviously a community brimming over with guns.  In fact, according to reports, the guns involved were NOT even legally owned by the shooter.  Gun laws aren’t the problem here.  They may be ‘A’ problem, but they’re not this problem.

But, so what… never let a crisis go to waste and this is a chance for a political victory.  Someone wheel out that Brady guy for a photo op, if he’s still around.




This seems to be happening a lot…

The president said, “as a nation we’ve been through this too many times over the last few years,” and boy he’s certainly seemed right about that.

We’d like to think that this incident is freakish, something that could only happen once in a millennium or longer, but we also know that’s a long way from being the case, and I wanted to look back and put things on paper.



 The very next day… 

More than 50 shots fired at Fashion Island mall; suspect held

Marcos Gurrola, 42, of Garden Grove is suspected of firing a handgun in the mall parking lot in Newport Beach. No one was hit.

A gunman at Fashion Island in Newport Beach apparently fired more than 50 rounds in a parking lot at the busy shopping mall Saturday before he was apprehended by police, authorities said.

The Los Angeles Times is reporting the story HERE.

My daughter and I had planned to go to THIS VERY MALL TODAY at the exact SAME TIME this shooting occurred.  I had to cancel at the last minute as I was exhausted from having worked until 5 AM last night writing this very article.  We planned to go tomorrow instead.  And that’s all I have to say about that.


Just a few days ago, Jacob Roberts put on a hockey mask and around 3:30 PM, and armed with a stolen AR-15 semiautomatic weapon walked into Macy’s, towards the Food Court in an Oregon shopping mall and started “spraying bullets,” according to eyewitnesses to the horrific scene, ABC News reported.  Roberts was wearing a load bearing vest and carried several fully loaded magazines, police said.  Obviously, Jacob Roberts wanted to kill as many people as possible, and it’s a miracle that only two people were killed… another who was shot was seriously injured, but survived.

It seems that he heard the sirens of police on their way to the scene, when he took of running down a flight of stairs, but once at the bottom, he shot himself and was found dead at the scene.

Portland’s Sheriff said that they did not understand the motive for the attack.  Roberts’ mother said she had no explanation for what her son did, calling her son “warm and loving.”  A friend of hers told ABC News it was completely “out of character.”

Local school district officials also said they were shocked.  Apparently, Roberts had no disciplinary record and was an average student with average grades.  The school district’s official statement said: “This news is very shocking to those who knew Jacob while at OCHS. He was known as a soft spoken and polite young man who was often eager to be helpful. The motive for such a horrific act is likely to remain a mystery to us all.”

According to ABC News, Roberts’ ex-girlfriend had never seen him angry or violent.  She echoed the sentiments of everyone else, saying: “Jake was never the violent type. He didn’t go out of his way to try to hurt people or upset people. His main goal was to make you laugh, smile, make you feel comfortable. I never would have guessed him to do anything like this ever,” she said.

No one has any idea why this happened?  Not a clue?  Okay, if you say so… but, ABC News also reported that in the days before Roberts went on his shocking shooting spree, he had quit his job and sold belongings, telling his ex-girlfriend that he was moving to Hawaii… even buying a plane ticket.  When she saw him last week she said he “seemed numb.”

And Roberts’ Facebook photo showed the words “Follow Your Dreams” had been painted over with the word, “Cancelled,” as if with graffiti spray paint.

Still no idea why it might have happened?  Well, maybe that, in and of itself, is the problem.


Just a few months ago, on September 27th, Andrew Engeldinger went on a rampage after losing his job, shooting and killing five people, and wounding three more before committing suicide in Minneapolis, Minnesota.  News reports referred to the shootings as “senseless.”


A month before that, on August 5th, six members of a Sikh Temple were shot and killed and four others were wounded in Oak Creek, Wisconsin by Wade Michael Page, age 40… before Page, who had used a semiautomatic handgun, committed suicide.


And only a few weeks before that, on July 20th, 2012… in Aurora, Colorado… we all saw the terrifying news that 12 people had been killed and 59 injured while sitting in a movie theater watching the premier of a new “Batman” movie.  James Holmes, 24 years old, who was arrested outside the theater, used an assault rifle, a shotgun and a handgun to commit the heinous attack.


Two months before that, on May 29th, a citywide manhunt concluded when Ian Stawicki shot and killed four people while they sat having coffee in the Cafe Racer Espresso in Seattle, Washington.  He then gunned down a fifth victim… a woman whose car he stole… before fatally shooting himself in the head as police were yelled out that he should drop his weapon.  The Seattle Times reports that it is not known what prompted the cafe shooting by Stawicki.

His father told ABC News that his son was “disgruntled.”

And Seattle’s Mayor told the press that he has asked police to identify strategies they can employ to, “bring an end to this wave of gun violence that this city is seeing.”


Just over a month before that, a 43 year-old former nursing student at a small religious college in Oakland, California, opened fire leaving seven dead.  The college’s founder said that he heard about 30 gun shots, as he remained hunkered down in his office for safety.  He also said that he wasn’t sure whether the shooter had dropped out of school, or been expelled.  And again, no one knows why it happened.


A little over a year ago, on October 14, 2011, in Seal Beach, California, eight people were gunned down in a hair salon when 41 year-old Scott Dekraai walked in and opened fire.


And another month before that, on September 6th, in Carson City, Nevada… about four miles from the headquarters of the California National Guard… Eduardo Sencion, who had no criminal history, walked into an IHOP with an AK-47, and shot 12 people having pancakes.  He then went outside and started shooting randomly at businesses nearby before fatally shooting himself.  Five were killed, seven were wounded.  Of the 12 victims, five were members of the National Guard in uniform.  Sencion had pulled up to the restaurant in a blue minivan with a bumper sticker that read: “Support Our Troops.”


Yes, it certainly does seem that we’re seeing these things far too often these days.


Seeing the problem for what it is…. or not seeing it at all.

One thing I’ve been learning the hard way lately is that just because I think a problem is obvious, that doesn’t mean that everyone else will agree.  Like, Democrats will say: “The glass is half empty.”  And then Republicans will say: “Hey, who stole half my water?”

Incredibly, if you ask me, criminologist James Alan Fox of Northeastern University told ABC News that “we can’t definitively say this year has seen a spike in mass killings.”


We can’t?  I can so.  Why can’t I?


According to Fox… “the facts say clearly that there has been no increase in mass killings, and certainly no epidemic.”  He wrote a column about this topic on Boston.com this past August and here’s what he said…


“Occasionally, we have witnessed short-term spikes with several shootings clustering close together in time. In the 1980s, we had a flurry of postal shootings, and the 1990s included a half dozen schoolyard massacres. Other than the copycatting reflected in these cases, the clustering of mass murders is nothing more than random timing and sheer coincidence.”


Here’s Professor Fox’s chart from that article and maybe it’s his problem.  I can’t tell anything from his chart either.

A List Far Too Long… 

I don’t care what Foxy has to say about this, the list of mass shootings in this country is way to long, there’s no question about that, and besides that’s not the point I’m trying to make anyway.  I’m saying that these unthinkable tragedies appear to be occurring with increasing frequency since 1999, which is about when income inequality started increasing dramatically… about when incomes started seriously stagnating.


ABC News reports that there have been an astounding 31 school shootings since 1999, when 13 were killed at Columbine… and since 1982, we’ve had 61 mass murders in this country.  I wanted to see what things looked like graphically myself, so, I pulled data compiled by Mother Jones on mass shootings in the U.S. since 1982, which is where ABC’s numbers came from, and then I created the two charts that follow.


Mass Shootings Scribd 2

Numbers Killed Scribd


I’d say we’re experiencing an up-tick, wouldn’t you?  Maybe I should send my charts to Professor Fox over at Northeastern U.




I think it’s US that are at fault… US… our society.  We’ve stopped caring about each other… we’ve stopped caring about hopelessness.


It’s all around us, every day… hopelessness.  More and more people have lost hope, lost their faith in this country.  We have millions feeling just plain lost.  They know they’ve been abandoned in favor of the banks that took their homes and the corporations that sent their jobs overseas.  And that’s on good days.  The bad days are spent wondering if insurance policies pay off after suicide.


But, as a nation we don’t seem to care very much about their plight.  The 50 million on food stamps.  The untold millions without jobs who have dropped out of the labor force.  The young people, roughly 50 percent of whom are unemployed, so many with student loan debt they can’t hope to repay.


The millions who can only find jobs that pay minimum wage or close.  Tens of millions who remain without health insurance who live in fear of anything going wrong.  The five million who have already lost their homes, and the 5.3 million still in the foreclosure pipeline.


And yet, we listen to politicians wax-unpoetic about personal responsibility and the need to cut spending on programs that will harm only those at the bottom of the socio-economic scale.  As a nation, we seem to have lost our empathy, more concerned about paying for our neighbor’s kitchen remodel, as Rick Santelli ranted about on CNBC, thus starting the Tea Party.


I don’t know what’s happened to us or precisely when it happened, but somewhere along the line of the last 30 odd years, we stopped having block parties and started partying alone… Neighborhood Watch started meaning we were keeping up with the conspicuous consumption of the people down the street.  And while our predominant policies continue to blatantly allow the rich to get that much richer, we don’t seem to be any better than those we criticize.


I don’t know what happened on Friday.  There is nothing that can ever explain it, nothing we can do about it, nothing that will ensure its prevention in the future.  It is an act so heinous as to be unthinkable and unspeakable.  It is something that every parent in America will grieve over forever.


But, I don’t think the Professor Foxes of this country are right… the apologists that want me to believe that nothing is amiss.  We are seeing more horror in our lives and we are standing by, largely mute, allowing our society to shun those less fortunate than others, branding those at the bottom “irresponsible,” instead of caring enough to understand that but for the grace of God go us all.


An Epilogue in Perspective…


As reported by British newspaper, The Telegraph


As many as 168 children have been killed in drone strikes in Pakistan during the past seven years as the CIA has intensified its secret programme against militants along the Afghan border.


In just a single attack on a madrassah in 2006 up to 69 children lost their lives.


Chris Woods, who led the research, said the detailed database of deaths would send shockwaves through Pakistan, where political and military leaders repeatedly denounce the strikes in public, while privately allowing the US to continue.


On November 5, 2009, Nidal Malik Hasan killed 13 and wounded 29 others at Fort Hood in Texas.  Hasan was an American citizen of Palestinian descent who had embraced radical Islam since 2006.


As Guy Forsyth said better than anyone ever has… “How must we look to the rest of the world… a spoiled, drunk 15 year-old waving a gun in their face.”


Mandelman out.

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