Between the Lines

Kim Anderson, MSW, LCSW, ATR-BC

Visions of Violence: Making Sense of the Senseless

Like so many Americans, Helpers, and Educators, I was confounded by the events in Newtown, Connecticut. In addition to being horrified by the senseless violence, I have been appalled by the unmeasured and ill concievevd responses. I share some thoughts and theories below.

A version of this blog was also posted on Leadscape, Equity Alliance, Arizona State University.

On December 14, 2012, Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut came under siege. Not unlike the Columbine, Colorado shooters some thirteen years earlier, the only definitive truths we seem to know about Adam Lanza are that he was young, computer knowledgeable, and dressed in dissident fashion as he used automatic weapons to kill innocent and seemingly random children and adults. Like the school assassins who preceded him, Lanza was immediately labeled an outsider, mentally ill, and antisocial. His mother, also dead from bullets allegedly propelled by her own son, likewise was vilified. These are horrible, graphic images and hideous notions with which we are left.

My diverse vocations and avocations (mental health professional, educational consultant, artist, writer, and life-long learner) prompt me to view this event holistically. Our minds, bodies, psyches and spirits have all been assaulted by this historic trauma. My desire to write this piece comes from my inclination for cultural consideration and collective problem-solving, yet I recognize that we are trying to solve this particular problem when, collectively, we cannot think very clearly. Our bodies shudder in empathy for the victims. Our psyches attempt to integrate how we feel and what we know by our fervent attempt to understand. Our spirits are depleted and we ask the age-old existential question, what is the meaning of life, inevitably leading us to the real question: why do the good die young?

The victims of Sandy Hook break our hearts because they symbolize the best of our hopes and the most actualized of our dreams. There is no time in a child’s life more perfect or ripe with hope than first grade. It is an age of innocence, curiosity, discovery and clarity about the existence of good and bad. There is no more honorable a profession than education. The teachers, administrators and auxiliary professionals to whom we entrust our children hold an honored place within our communities.

In the grim face of this tragedy, we seek answers because grief overwhelms us. We want there to be solutions and assurances that this will never happen again, that we can protect our chi