My Pledge to the People of Sandy Hook

Like everyone else, my heart ached when I heard about the tragedy at Sandy Hook Elementary School. The thought of what those innocent, beautiful children witnessed.. the terror that the teachers saw and felt.. the totally and completely unnecessary loss of life.. the images that first responders saw that nobody else had to endure. The only emotion that can match the depth and intensity of my sorrow is the total and unconditional love that I have for my own children. Why did such an awful and tragic event happen? How could such a terrible fate meet so many innocent children and wonderful people? Those questions have gripped much of my thought over the last several days. After much thought, I've concluded the following..

This happened because there is evil in the world. We can all debate the existence of some supreme being, the veracity of organized religion and the role that organized religion should or shouldn't play in society. We cannot debate the unfortunate reality that evil exists. If there was ever any doubt, this tragedy proved it. Children are the personification of good in this world. They love unconditionally, they approach the world with arms wide open and they meet the world each day with a sense of wonder and joy. Children lack prejudice or pretense. They don't know hate. They don't know mean. They know good and nothing else until they are taught otherwise.

Spoiling that innocence is wrong. Stealing that innocence is criminal. Murdering that innocence is absolute and complete evil. We were witness to evil at Sandy Hook Elementary School. We unfortunately have also bore witness to evil in numerous cases of child molestation, neglect and abuse. I sense that everyone is as tired of seeing this evil perpetrated as I am.. so what can we do?

First, I think we can take great comfort in another fundamental truth. There is significantly greater good in the world than evil. We see it and experience it every day. We saw it at Sandy Hook Elementary School. Dawn Hochsprung, Victoria Soto, Lauren Rousseau, Mary Sherlach, Anne Marie Murphy, Rachel Davino all sacrificed their lives to save the lives of young children. Many other teachers put their lives at risk to do the same. First responders put their lives at risk and rushed in with one goal in mind.. stop whatever and whoever was taking aim at students and teachers. They did. Swiftly and bravely.. they did. They saved many lives. Each day, there is far, far more good than evil. We need to highlight the good. We need to celebrate the good. As much as we'd like to, we can't get rid of evil. We can't get rid of it but we can marginalize it. We can marginalize it by doing the right thing individually. We can marginalize it by working together to be on the lookout for it and taking action when we suspect it. Individually and collectively, we have a chance to thwart evil. Every single one of these tragedies could have been prevented. In many cases, they could have been prevented by family members of the perpetrators. There were warning signs. There always are. It's not OK to sit idly by while evil plots and plans. It's not OK to enable evil with support.. be it direct or indirect. Evil can't be completely stopped by legislation.. it can't be stopped by the police.. it can't be stopped by prayer alone. Evil can only be stopped by good people, working individually and collectively to do the right thing, highlighting good and marginalizing evil. We need to stop celebrating evil. It may not be our intent, but one of the consequences of our sensationalist media is the glorification of evil. If it bleeds, it leads. If there is lots of blood, it leads for a long time. Sadly, for some, the allure of mass media attention (even negative) is more appealing than their current existence of loneliness, ridicule and internal conflict. Rinse. Recycle. Repeat. I've had enough.

To all of the families of Sandy Hook and all those tragically impacted by evil, I offer this following pledge to you. I pledge to you that I will celebrate good over evil, always. I will celebrate the amazing good that your community and people personify. I pledge to you that I will be diligent in my lookout for evil. When I encounter it and wherever I encounter it, I will do everything I can to thwart it. I will teach my children to do the same. I will spread this message as far as I possibly can.

Michael Gunn
Exton, PA

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