I watched the story of the Newtown massacre on Twitter. I watched it like it was a movie. No, I watched it like I was in a writers' room for a movie-- narratives being pitched, and heightened, and edited, and then finally fact-checked. It was one story with a million writers. The worst kind of way to write a movie that you are sure everyone is going to see and believe. Over the days, the contradicting stories became evident-- how did the heroic Miss Soto both save her whole class and have half her class killed?-- who was the dead parent in the bedroom?-- was he buzzed in or did he force his way in?-- and bad journalism gave way to good. That was a relief. We ache for one clear story, preferably with a moral. And we all got a story, a dramatic one, and we're in the process of drawing our own morals out of it. None of that is surprising.
I read the obituaries of the kids, their short stories, and I wept at their simplicity and their sweetness. Those obits were so clearly written by parents and siblings in pain. What do you say about a six year old? They loved tacos and hair gel. I think I learned more about the phrase "childhood innocence" reading those obituaries than I have at any other time of my life, including when I was around 5 year olds every day.
People are committing 26 random acts of kindness. I agree this is a nice thing to do. I agree that being kinder and gentler and making people's days is a good impulse and can have a genuine impact. I want to do it. I am at heart an optimist and a pragmatist, which means I want to feel I can do something to have an impact and then things will be incrementally better.
However, I'm not happy with this number 26. There's still a story that hasn't been clarified, and it probably won't, and that story is the most important.
Adam Lanza killed his mother and we don't know why. Not only that, but he'd been estranged (or just out of touch with?) his brother and his father. The family had broken apart for some reason, or reasons, which will likely remain in the realm of speculation forever. I'm not going to guess why. But those four people are important. Somehow, somewhere, that family fell apart and now two of those people are alive and alone and very likely miserable. They must have their family's story running over and over in their heads. I feel tremendously sorry for them.
If we are trying to prevent future massacres due to mental illness, or cruelty, or evil, or rage-- we need to be kind to the future Lanzas. That is the call. That is the harder thing to do, personally and as a nation. The almost-Lanzas deserve our love, so that they will become never-Lanzas.
So do your 26 nice things for those kids.
Then do two for whatever happened in that house that morning, which we will never know. 28.
And then do two more for the remaining family that has to live with knowing that a person they loved turned on the world. 30.
Just my thoughts for the day.