I had finished my day at work, culminating in a highly successful Christmas Fair. I ensconced myself at home with those most enjoyable of evening routines – teatime with the family, bathing our youngest, reading stories, singing the song we always sing before bedtime.
And then I switched on the News. There I learned that 20 children within the same age range as my own children had been murdered. A week focussed on both educating my school children and parenting my own children had ended with this. I was struck by how my children will still have their bedtime tomorrow, and the next day, and hopefully for many years to come. But the children in Newtown wouldn’t.
Today the inevitable debate has unfolded. What actually happened? Why? Would it have been different if the gun laws had been different?
I can’t answer any of that. I could pontificate on the difference in gun laws between the UK (where I live) and the US. But it’s not just about that.
What I can’t get out of my head is that during those tragic 30 minutes or so when Adam Lanza went on his insane rampage, it is estimated that 400 children died somewhere in the world. Malnutrition, disease, war. They all take their toll. Just like the 20 children in Newton, those 400 children in different parts of the world had their whole lives ahead of them. They were pure and innocent too. They will have no bedtime routine tonight either.
Estimates are that about twenty thousand children die each day, two thirds of them from preventable causes. 1 in 7 of those children die from the simple reason of just not having decent toilets – a problem that you can help by visiting toilettwinning.org.
Yet the world’s media don’t go running to those tragic deaths. Somehow we are numbed from this human tragedy. People just like us are dying all over the world and yet some deaths are reported as more tragic than others. It’s this discrepancy that bothers me. It’s an injustice on such a scale that it is easier to argue about US gun laws, despite the entrenched positions that both sides take.
The late, great atheist Douglas Adams, in his book, Dirk Gently’s Holistic Detective Agency, talked about the interconnectedness of all things. It’s a principal that I agree with. Maybe if we work to see the world become a more just place, rather than merely protecting our own corner of it, then we might see less injustice all round.
Whatever happens after this, there may be another shooting next week. Or in January. Or maybe not until February. I don’t know. But I do know that twenty thousand children will die tomorrow, and the next day and the day after that.