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Our Hearts Are Broken, a reflection on Newtown Tragedy

“Our Hearts Are Broken”

–but we must help it heal. Millions of students wore blue in memory of the Connecticut shooting victims this Monday. The tearful cries of a working mother, the pouring anguish of a loving sister, the lives of twenty-seven souls violently extinguished… hatred and misunderstanding has again mounted to one of the most heartbreaking tragedies in our history. Yet we must not dwell in sighs and remorse, tragedies will only surface time after time, unless we all make a commitment to self-reflection.

Our hearts are broken, but we must help it heal. The Newtown tragedy is a wake-up call pulling us from the illusions of lasting social harmony fabricated by  economic wealth and dominance. Hidden within our community are lurking perils fathered by apathy and indiscretion. And it’s not just a matter of gun control. Every so often in the school cafeteria, a few students in a heated brawl would end up in the nurses’ office with a swollen eye or fractured arm. Due to large size of American schools, security staff often responds slowly and ineffectively to special circumstances. The twenty lives lost during the disaster last Friday plead us to increase school security measures. This could mean hiring more security staff, designing a student mental-wellbeing monitoring system, and applying detectors at school entrances. After all, where else can we enjoy a sense of safety if even our schools are under threat? As young people, we can not take full advantage of education or hold fast to our visions of tomorrow without being insured of life today.

Our hearts are broken, but we must help it heal. Hatred is silent poison that tears civilizations apart. Acts of terrorism-in-cognito has plagued the innocent and defenseless too much in the past few years. What’s more bothersome is that the horrifying transformation of men into extreme misanthropes often goes unnoticed. Or is it? As someone who’s lived in both a densely populated urban center and a quiet suburb, I’ve witnessed the disparity in people’s mental wellbeing as a result different levels of communication. Back in middle school when my family crowded in an apartment, we fostered close relationships with neighbors. My mother often sent me with baskets of goodies to place under the doors of struggling families. Ironically, after arriving at a house of our own, it almost feels as if we’ve shut ourselves behind our doors and ceased outside interaction. “What’s the name of the young boy next door?” My family still couldn’t answer that after three years of living here. In a society of growing individualism, we must not be overwhelmed by our egos. During a class discussion about the tragedy, a classmate suggested that “we should make friends with lonely, isolated people.” Indeed, loneliness, the loss of voice and perspective, is the catalyst for extreme ideological transformations. Silence skews one’s construction of reality, leading him/her to see only the dark and hateful. Since the beginning of the school year, I’ve seen this one friendless freshman in the computer lab. I’ve made a promise to myself that tomorrow, I’ll greet him warmly. You never know, maybe you are saving humanity from another tragedy by smiling at the kid in the lonely corner.

In Montgomery County, ensuring school safety has not been a major challenge. However, tobacco usage, drug abuse, and physical violence are of paramount concerns to any school community. At the recent Board Of Education meeting with student leaders, a few delegates expressed concerns about administrators failing to respond to increasing tobacco abuse on campus. Board Members acknowledged that promoting health and security are priorities for our schools, and preventive measures will be applied. However, ensuring our physical wellbeing is a mutual effort; as students, we must fulfill our own role as responsible young citizens.

December 14th, 2012 will remain in our hearts forever. Let us be guided by the better angels of our nature.

By Jessica Li, SAC press secretary

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