, Gloucester, MA

December 19, 2012

Letter: Shining the light on senseless gun violence

Gloucester Daily Times

---- — To the editor:

Last Friday morning, little children at Sandy Hook Elementary School huddled in closets and cubbies while a man dressed in black blasted bullets from a semi-automatic rifle in corridors and classrooms, killing 20 of their friends and six valued adults.

In that same hour, the youngest students at the local school where I teach were spilling excitedly onto a sparkly stage for their annual holiday play. The juxtaposition of trauma and death with such innocence and delight still takes my breath away. Days later, like many of you, I can’t stop thinking about how and why the tragedy happened and what I can do to help.

For an answer to the latter, I’m inspired by our school play that day. It was an adaptation of a seasonal favorite; we called it “It’s a Wonderful Light.”

In this version, the tiny townspeople had to save their beloved Community Center from mean Mr. Potter’s plot to destroy it. With reedy voices and rouged cheeks, they sang, danced, and fought evil by focusing on good. In the finale, they passed light from candle to candle to illuminate the darkness caused by the bad man. The stage twinkled, and their wide eyes shone as they sang “This Little Light of Mine.”

So I will take a lesson from the children who shared their light in a show of solidarity and strength. I can do that by lending my one small voice to the national conversation about gun violence and by advocating for meaningful action.

Together, we can light up this awful dark. We can remember that, in 2012 alone, Chicago lost 512 souls and Los Angeles nearly 400 to gun-related violence. We can write letters to the president and elected officials imploring them to make it harder for convicted felons and the dangerously mentally ill to get guns in the first place. We can plead with them to pass laws such as banning military-style assault weapons.

In memory of the 20 lost children of Sandy Hook School and in honor of our precious children in every neighborhood in this country, we can force the change for a brighter, safer future.

In this way, I’m going to let my little light shine. I hope you will do that, too.