Most people I know or have seen fall into two groups.
One group tries to find a way to “fix” the situation. The most obvious answer that comes to most peoples’ minds is gun control. (Which has the immediate social complication of changing the focus from the tragedy to an argument over whether people should have guns or not -- totally changing the game and redefining the situation.) Or taking their kids out of school… Or whatever gives them the most comfort.
The other group responds by humanizing the victims. Share in their pain, empathize and try to do for them what you think they’d want. In some of my friends’ cases this means turning off the television and doing their best to mend things in their own lives -- using it as a motivator to better themselves, while refusing to contribute to the pain and spectacle.
By nature, I would tend to fall into the first group. It’s the easiest way to go. Morally and by choice, I stand with the second group. There are a few things that we should especially nor do at this time.
First, we should not invade the lives and privacy of the victims of this tragedy -- whether those who lived (especially the children) or those who died. Let them have their peace, especially now. Send them support. Send them sympathy. Send them flowers and leave them alone. This is especially directed at the media outlets that refuse to show good sense or compassion and hound the survivors, turning their lives into a spectacle and robbing them of their peace at the worst possible time in their lives.
Second, we should not be first concerned over how to fix the problem, turning a tragedy into a debate over the same issues that have been debated for so long. If this tragedy, or any tragedy, is to matter, then it must be remembered for its own sake -- not because it sparked another gun control debate. If you are one of those who have taken opportunity to air your views on gun control on Facebook or twitter, then shame on you.
Take a week. Reflect on all the things in your life that you can improve. Mend some fences. Show some appreciation for the people you care about. I personally appreciate my own children at a time like this. I take time to play with them, and grieve for the parents whose children have died.
For those of you who, like me, tend to fall into that first group by nature, be assured that this is the best way to solve the problem. Do not forget the tragedy. Instill a respect for human life in your own children. Take the time to mend what should be mended. This is the solution -- probably more than anyone realizes.
Jared Michaud is a freelance writer living in Wyoming.