Saturday, December 15, 2012

letter to my colleagues the morning after the tragedy at Sandy Hook Elementary School

Dear Share Our Strength and Community Wealth Ventures colleagues:

            There is almost no way to make sense of it, but we have to try.  As a community of colleagues whose priority is the welfare of children, we can’t respond to the Sandy Hook school shootings with only shock and silence.

Nor is it enough to hug our children a little tighter, as the popular refrain goes at a time like this, though I certainly did the minute Nate got home from school.  We must also have the courage to say that automatic weapons should be kept out of the hands of unstable kids, adolescents and adults so that we don’t find ourselves hugging our kids more and more often during unthinkable moments like these.

            Political leaders adept at eloquent expressions of heartfelt grief, draw the line at deploying such eloquence to banish the causes of such grief.  I find it deeply disappointing. But as a community of colleagues committed to putting children first, we know that Sandy Hook and child hunger, and other injury inflicted on kids, share a disturbing political dynamic. As we’ve said so many times, children are not only vulnerable but voiceless. They don’t vote, make campaign contributions, or have lobbyists. Consequently they don’t set or control the political agenda. And now in Newtown Connecticut some of those voices have been silenced forever. 

But not ours. Every day that we fight for children to have the food they need to grow healthy and strong, we are also fighting to ensure that their still soft and precious voices are heard.  We must raise our voice to strengthen theirs, confident in the conviction that in so doing we will strengthen the political will to protect what is most precious to us and most deserving of protection. 

There is almost no way to make sense of it, but we have to try.



  1. The senseless losses in Connecticut and globally are indeed worthy of our great lament--and action. May we always allow our grief to inform a deeper, ever more cherished understanding of this human experience--and of the power of our own active compassion in the face of an evil that emerges in the forms of mental and physical unhealth. A laser-sharp focus is required in the search for solutions while a concentrated indwelling in the present makes appropriate space for the healthy, humane responses we call sorrow and pain.

    In the past, I have liked the phrase, "Let the change begin with me." Today it seems too passive. I am now actively looking for strategies to make this more than a pleasant-sounding wish. That said, I have a great worry as I see people rushing to a legislative response to an emergence of evil. (Selah.) A colleague recently discovered that he has high cholesterol when he was told that he had been prescribed medication for the same. I shared with him that--when I learned I had high cholesterol--my physician prescribed changes in my diet and lifestyle. Now 80 lbs lighter, I wonder, is our rush to law the same as a rush to the pharmacy? Can we really legislate and prescribe wellness, or is it corporately developed through an ethic of nurturing and care?

  2. Hmm. We don't blame cars and booze for drunk driving deaths that kill way more people a year, and yet, we blame guns for this horrible tragedy. Kinda hypocritical, don't you think. Remember that the next time you have a 'harmless' glass or two of wine.