I tend to be a half-glass full type of guy. At least I think I am.
I usually try to look at the bright side.
Since last Friday, after the massacre in Newtown, CT, I've been struggling to find a bit of brightness.
Just a sliver.
And there are a few points of light, scattered about here and there, enough to gather together to create a small glow.
President Obama's words at the vigil held in Newtown Sunday night, for example:
"If there's even one step we can take to save one child, or one parent, or one town from the grief that has visited Tucson, and Aurora and Oak Creek and Newtown and communities from Columbine to Blacksburg before that, then surely we have an obligation to try," the president told the auditorium.
"In the coming weeks, I'll use whatever power this office holds to engage my fellow citizens, from law enforcement to mental health professionals to parents and educators in an effort to prevent more tragedies like this," he said. "Because what choice do we have?"
The president's statements brought a bit of comfort, and a bit of sanity as our nation grasps with these crazy times.
There just aren't good words to talk about Newtown. It is a crime that literally defies imagination – it, in fact, flings imagination down and stomps it flat. No one reading this can imagine strolling into an elementary school and opening fire on a bunch of small children. You can't imagine even wanting to.
And since there are no "good words," I wish some people would remain silent.
Mike Huckabee, former Arkansas governor and GOP presidential candidate, was not helpful when he told Fox News the shooting happened because "we removed God from our schools."
Rush Limbaugh hardly provided any comfort when he claimed, on his radio show, that "…the Drive-By Media and the Democrats are attempting to politicize the issue to advance their own agenda. In this case, probably an assault on the Second Amendment again. I guarantee you that they are overturning everything they can in their quest to be able to blame this on Republicans. This, to them, is an opportunity."
This, and a host of other things that I've read this past week – so-called "solutions" offered by who I am sure are well-meaning people – leave me a bit pessimistic right now.
I think part of the problem is what happened last Friday is so grotesque that it defies understanding. I don't blame those who are currently calling for greater gun control right now. I also must admit I personally see no need for a civilian like me to own a gun designed, not for hunting, but for mass destruction.
So, naturally, there's been a reaction to anyone espousing a belief that perhaps gun control is an issue that should be looked at. Gun control opponents are angry that "liberals" immediately started talking about gun control, but this seems like a natural instinct to me. It's not the best way to get good policy, mind you; hard cases make bad laws, and rules passed in the wake of tragedies tend to be over-specific, and under-careful about unintended consequences.
I, for example, instinctively do an eye-roll every time I read about someone who believes the solution is arming everyone from principals and teachers to janitors in our schools. In fact, it seems likely that legislation calling for such a move may be introduced during next year's legislative session in Pierre. It's a lousy policy to consider.
According to a news report this week, public schools in South Dakota shed 214 teaching jobs and 14 administrators last school year in the wake of a dramatic reduction in state aid. I wish state lawmakers would focus on trying to stem that problem, instead of trying to require the staff of our poorly funded schools to arm themselves.
Back to the issue at hand (notice how I've seemed to nearly stray off topic more than once? It's reflective of what's happening in our nation right now.)
After Columbine, and Virginia Tech, and Tucson and Aurora – and now Newtown – I think it's good that a national dialogue has begun.
I mean, if 30 Vermillion children had been killed in a freakish landslide of a Missouri River bluff, I hope that we'd be talking about whether there might be some way to keep that from happening in the future.
I'm hopeful that the National Rifle Association, which will finally be making some sort of statement on Friday, can serve as an advocate for positive change. I'm not an NRA member, but I know people who are. I'm sure most NRA members are reasonable people. When the president talks about engaging fellow citizens, the NRA needs to be at the table.
But, my glass remains half-empty. Maybe a policy can be implemented which could stop something like Newtown from happening again. History shows that we won't implement that policy. And since nothing else is going to work, we are not going to pass a law that will stop these sorts of mass shootings.
We may pass a law, mind you. But whatever we do pass, we will have more of these evil happenings ahead of us.