Maybe you didn’t know that many classical philosophers and scientists including Aristotle considered the heart the seat of thought, reason and emotion. It was widely believed to be the seat of the human soul.
I can quantify how to protect your physical heart. But it’s less clear how to treat softer functions of the heart or what number to call in case of an emergency. Regrettably, there’s no Aleve for the soul.
I needed a prescription for healing hurts because recently my heart was broken into so many pieces that it’s taken a long time for all the king’s horses and all the king’s men to put it back together again.
On Dec. 14, a nightmare came to life and was a turning point for thinking and feeling people across the land. That’s when the unimaginable occurred at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut. In the haze of grief my sense of what we are as a country was altered, not only by what happened, but by the aftermath when we retreated to our neutral corners.
At first I couldn’t talk about a tragedy that surpassed human understanding. Now that the immediacy has passed and my feelings have been numbed by media coverage and disrespectful conspiracy theories, we need to talk. You can relax — there’s no way I’m going to talk about gun control. My momma didn’t raise a fool.
But there are other uncomfortable questions to face. Do we care that to the rest of the world the U.S. looks dysfunctional? I hope we drill deep for answers and have the guts to institute change.
Right now we only have finger-pointing and blame-dodging: I know who’s responsible — it’s Hollywood and the culture of violent video games. For sure it’s the flawed mental health system. No, it must be our gun culture. Of course it’s a failure of the family.
People are dug in assessing fault but we should come together in a thoughtful discussion leading to results. In order to solve a problem this huge we need to start with the areas where we agree. I think everyone agrees we don’t want another Sandy Hook, so let’s begin there.
Next, I’ll arm wrestle anyone who challenges my patriotism, but can we hold onto the belief that the U.S. is still the greatest nation on the planet? What makes that claim valid? So we put a man on the moon, but we’re stymied by problems on terra firma. Doesn’t that failure nullify our braggadocio? I challenge us to reclaim the title and be the world leader we can be.
Because prohibiting another Sandy Hook confronts us with a societal puzzle, I offer the following analogy. My grandchildren and I enjoy assembling 100-piece puzzles and our simple strategies might provide clarity leading to solutions.
We turn all the pieces face up on a table to get a good look (identify all the variables).
Separate the pieces with edges (difficult choices) and corners (dead ends) from the pieces that clearly belong in the middle (where it’s easy to build consensus). We know approximately where those pieces will go.
Identify clues. (The big picture is a guide; what’s the goal?)
Think twice. (A solution that seems obvious deserves a second look. I correct my 8-year-old when he says, “This has to go there.” Now he says, “This MIGHT fit there.”)
Time, patience, and voila — the puzzle is solved.
I’m confident people smarter than me can figure it out without taking a side trip to see the Wizard for some courage and a heart. It’s easy if we try. John Lennon expressed similar hope when he wrote ‘Imagine” … “Yu may say I’m a dreamer, but I’m not the only one.”
My soul still aches and I pray that the puzzle will be solved. A tragedy like this should never happen again.
Murphy is a member of the Carrollton Creative Writers Club and the Carrollton Civic Woman’s Club. Reach her at email@example.com.