Tuesday December 18, 2012

Reflections on
a road trip to Newtown

Editor of the Reformer:

I woke up at 1:30 this morning and I was still sad and thinking about all the little children and the teachers that had their lives cut short yesterday in Newtown, Conn. So I got in my car and I bought three bouquets of flowers and I hit the highway. I drove 140 miles to Newtown, Conn., and brought flowers to the church where they held the candle light vigil last night. Then I walked down the street to a little diner to get a bit to eat, and the only thing that I can think of to describe this experience is sadness -- and at the same time I felt good that I went.

There was one local man in the diner eating, and he kind of got bombarded by some press asking him a million questions. I felt bad for him because he was a little frustrated. He told them that "everyone wants to try to get back to their lives and deal with this in their own ways -- to get through it as families and communities, and there is no way to even start getting life back to normal until you all leave. This is a little town, and there are like 2,000 trucks clogging up our little town."

I felt it was very empowering to go on this little road trip because not only did I get to go to a place I have never been but also the people of this town hear all over the news that America mourns for this tragedy, but the locals that I saw and spoke to actually felt it when they found out where I came from and how far it was to just bring flowers.

Deborah Shippa,

Brattleboro, Dec. 15

It’s time for lawmakers to enact change

Editor of the Reformer:

It saddens me hearing about the massacre in Connecticut’s little town of Newton. I just read the names and ages of the victims online, and it is so sad.

What makes a person do such a thing? These little children had done nothing wrong, nor did the adults that were killed. All so young.

We have seen on television, read in the paper, multiple school shootings in the past three to five years, maybe even longer. What needs to be done to protect our youth? It has been presented before, and parents themselves right here in Brattleboro said they didn’t like the idea, and that is to put armed police officers in the school system. If not the police, then someone trained in this field.

Are we as a society going to sit back and wait for that type of tragedy to happen here? If we can put the WCS Department in the court house, we can sure put them in the schools. Society is cracking up, and there is plenty of blame to go around. Mostly in Washington, D.C. How much more can we, as a nation, take? Something has to give, and unfortunately, some result to things like the Connecticut shootings to get someone to finally listen. Keep taking away social programs that are desperately needed, and health needs. Our own government and our state representatives are to blame for what happened, and it’s only going to get worse, unless the people we elect into office actually do what they were put there to do.

Get off your duffs before it happens here. Stop the senselessness.

Roger L. Andrews,

Brattleboro, Dec. 16

In time of tragedy, communication is key

Editor of the Reformer:

Most of us are still reeling from the horrific killings in a Connecticut elementary school this past week. All weekend I have felt shaken by the event. I am compelled to write some of my thoughts regarding guns and gun control issues. I recognize that my thoughts are simplistic. However, my training in early childhood education demands that I speak out.

Guns affect everyone -- in both good and bad ways.

People who fear having their right to bear arms taken away need to be heard and understood. People who fear guns and the horrific tragedies that result because of the firing of guns need to be heard and understood.

This is the work that must happen: Bring these diverse views to the same table. And then, listen. And then, come to some common ground.

All Americans want to feel safe. We are in a climate of fear, anxiety, grief, and paranoia for people of all opinions in regards to gun legislation. Can we all agree that we must create environments where our children feel safe? We are failing to do so now. We can only achieve this by coming together as a unified group.

Gun opponents and gun proponents can agree on one thing at least -- we love our children and no child in America -- or anywhere in the world -- should experience the ravages of death and destruction due to acts of violence with guns. We must stop being at war with each other in regards to issues around the right to bear arms and gun legislation. We must stop any more needless and potential killings, rampages, and acts of destruction caused by guns. No one deserves to experience seeing the loss of life as it happened this past week in Connecticut. No one should have his or her young child, or any loved one, killed in such an act of violence.

This is a terribly tragic time in America. Everyone is affected either directly or indirectly by the tragedy in Connecticut.

Who is going to invite all voices of opinion to the same table? Action needs to happen now. Can differing opinions be courageous enough to sit at the same table and listen to one another and draft appropriate legislation?

This is our duty and responsibility as Americans in our democratic society. Our children are counting on us to do as they themselves are taught to do in school: Listen respectively to differing opinions and learn how to compromise so that in the end all are satisfied.

Laura Lawson Tucker,

Guilford, Dec. 17

What our obsession
with guns shows us

Editor of the Reformer:

In the aftermath of the tragedy in Newtown, I simply couldn’t understand the people who stood up for their second amendment rights. Why couldn’t these people understand that sensible legislation, as has been put into place in other countries, most notably Australia, could at least bring down the amount of deaths associated with incidents such as these, if not stop them altogether?

It seemed the height of callousness for people to espouse more guns as a solution, to arm teachers as a solution, to blame only the shooter, and to express remorse while at the same time saying, "Don’t mess with my rights." Then I read a comment on facebook where a person talked about his house getting robbed by the same people twice. About how the police were late in acting and how the perpetrators were never caught and I finally got it. People’s guns make them feel safe. In a country with double digit unemployment, lacking in mental health services, and with dangerous drugs warping young peoples minds, some feel their only recourse is the gun in their closet, and the more powerful the better. So, while my position on banning assault rifles has not changed I do feel some compassion for people who don’t live in safe neighborhoods like I do.

Our obsession with guns as a nation is a symptom of an even larger epidemic.

Dan Seiden,

Brookline, Dec. 16

Protecting the children of the world

Editor of the Reformer:

President Obama ended his speech at Newtown, Conn., last night with the words, "May He grace those we still have with His holy comfort, and may He bless and watch over this community and the United States of America."

I woke up this morning wishing he had added just four more words: "And the whole world."

There have been messages of mourning and sympathy from around the world. Without in any way disregarding the agony of the massacres in this country -- I find myself wondering about the number of children and caregivers in the world who have died at our hands -- as a result of U.S. policy. How many children did we needlessly kill in Iraq? How many children in our own country and in the world at large are dying because as a nation we have yet to make caring and peace our top priority? How can we call one killing evil and the other not?

Clearly there are huge problems that need to be solved within our borders but it seems to me that we mustn’t see ourselves as an island.

What if our quest was no more children killed anywhere?

Joanna Rueter,

Brattleboro, Dec. 15