LMT's home is Newtown, Connecticut. Several of us live here, too.
When I heard David Wheeler, the father of 6-year-old Sandy Hook shooting victim, Ben, speak last month, I felt his words needed to most urgently be broadcast across our United States. He said: "My wife and I have spent the last month tasked with being the best possible parents for our surviving son, Nate. But what we have recently come to realize is that we are not done being the best parents we can be for Ben. If there is something in our society that needs to be fixed or healed or resolved, it needs a point of origin. It needs parents."
Wheeler asked parents to begin the process of change by looking inward: "I would respectfully ask every parent who hears these words to pause and ask, 'What is it worth to you? What is worth doing to keep your children safe?'
"The job of our legislators is to keep its constituents safe. The right to own a weapon is second to the right of our people to live their lives. Let's get our priorities straight!" I could not agree more.
Perhaps you wonder what place this sort of social commentary has in a business strategies magazine about dental laboratory technology. To me, there are times when a social conversation transcends the parameters of an occupation; this is one of those times. At this moment in history, I believe there is nothing more central and appropriate than for all of us to take a step away from our daily routine to ask, "Who am I as a member of our American society? Am I doing all I can to participate in this critical need for a national dialogue about preventing gun violence in America?"
If you step back to really examine your life, I believe you'll find your ultimate purpose--the purpose at the core of everything you do--to be your desire for self-preservation and the protection of everyone you love.
It is my hope that we all know by now we--every one of us--can no longer do nothing. We know we need a holistic approach to curtail gun violence, have more comprehensive programs to identify and assess at-risk individuals and provide care for those who are mentally ill. I ask you to do something. Join the dialogue and keep it going until we--as a nation--can find workable solutions that all of us can accept.
The government of America--the land of the free--is founded on a system of checks and balances. This system is meant to safeguard our freedom. My opinion is that, in seeking to protect our freedom, we have lost sight of the balance that keeps everything in check.
After 9/11, when one man had a bomb hidden in his shoe, the security system for boarding a plane was further amended to ensure our safety; we now remove our shoes. Because of one man. How is it that with so many acts of gun violence we have not yet found a reasonable path to prevention?
As we move deeper into this national debate about gun violence, Abraham Lincoln's words resonate as if he said them only two months ago: ". . . that we here highly resolve that these dead shall not have died in vain--that this nation, under God, shall have a new birth of freedom--and that government of the people, by the people and for the people, shall not perish from the earth." With those words, the new birth of freedom was deliverance from enslavement. My hope is that we can now abolish gun violence. It's a tall order but one that must be addressed now.
I think we sometimes forget how fortunate we are to be Americans and that the United States is governed of, by and for the people, guided by laws meant to provide protection so that we can live here as citizens united in peace.
There are other words that resonate here in Newtown. "I'm Ana's mom," said Nelba Márquez-Greene, whose 6-year-old was killed in the shooting. "A month ago I put two children on the bus and only one came home. We choose love, belief and hope instead of anger.
"We choose love. Love wins. Love wins in Newtown. This is a promise* to do everything in our power to be remembered not as the town filled with grief and victims but as a place where real change began," Márquez-Greene said.
We cannot go anywhere in town without these words crossing our path: "We are Sandy Hook. We choose love."
It is part of our fiber now. Please join us in our quest for real change.
* These words were spoken at the January 14 launch of the Sandy Hook Promise, an organization dedicated to identifying and implementing holistic, common-sense solutions to make our community and our country safer from similar acts of violence. The Promise aims "to have the conversations on ALL the issues, conversations where listening is as important as speaking, conversations where even those with the most opposing views can debate in good will." Please visit sandyhookpromise.org.