By Jeff Mullin, columnist
Enid News and Eagle
ENID, Okla. —
Who knows what the world lost Friday in an elementary school in the quiet town of Newtown, Conn.
This we know for certain: 26 people died at the hands of a madman, and that 20 of them were children between the ages of 5 and 10.
They were babies, cut down in cold blood, their lives ended before they could really begin.
Who knows what they might have accomplished.
There might have been a doctor in the group, who would have developed some life-saving technique that will now go undiscovered.
There might have been a researcher who would go on to crack the mystery of cancer, Alzheimer’s, MS, or one of a number of other horrible diseases. That cure might not now be found.
One or more might have been business leaders, who would have made a real difference in their communities. Some might have worked with the poor, the elderly and the unfortunate.
More than one might have become first responders, police, fire or emergency medical technicians. There may have been a minister or priest in the group.
Likely there would have been a soldier, sailor, Marine, airman or Coast-Guardsman among their number.
Who knows what they might have become.
But, for the immediate future, they would have just been normal kids, loving cartoons, dolls, video games and superheroes, eagerly anticipating Christmas in just more than a week.
There would have been little league, dance recitals, church programs, school plays, piano lessons and parent-teacher conferences.
Slowly, surely, one discovery at a time, they would have begun figuring out their place in this great big world. They would have learned their school lessons, to be sure, but they also would have experienced the wonders life presents outside the classroom.
They would have loved and been loved. They would have formed friendships, hugged the neck of a favorite old dog, stood at their mother’s elbow as she cooked or followed dad as he mowed the lawn.
In a blink, in a flash, they would have grown, becoming young men and women. They would have learned to drive and begun to date.
There would have been cheerleading, football practice, winter formals and proms.
Their time would have been filled with play rehearsal, studies, youth group activities, basketball games and chess club.
One spring day, they would have donned cap and gown and strode across the stage at the sound of their name, shaken the hand of the superintendent or the principal and received their high school diplomas.
Then it would be on to more education, or the job market, or the military. And one day they would call home and say, “Mom, Dad, I think I’ve found the one.”
And there would have been weddings, and babies, and the cycle of life would have begun anew with another generation.
Their lives would not have been a bed of roses, to be sure. There would have been struggle, there would have been disappointment, there would have been pain, there would have been sorrow. But there would have been countless hours of joy and fulfillment, as well.
But it is not to be, thanks to a crazed gunman. And as we shake our heads at the senselessness of it all, we ask how the God of all creation could allow something heinous like this to happen.
He doesn’t, of course, allow these things: they happen because he created us with free will, even when, on occasion, that free will takes a lunatic turn.
Instead, he comforts us in our sorrow, and assures us that the victims have gone to a better place, though we would have preferred they stay with us much longer.
So we are left to ask why, and to call anew for answers and some sort of solution. Some will call for greater control on guns in our nation.
I am not a fan of guns, but I am realistic enough to know taking weapons away from the law-abiding won’t deter those bent on using firearms for harm.
We can strive to make our schools more secure, or our shopping malls, in the wake of the killing of two and wounding of another at an Oregon mall earlier last week.
But if someone is disturbed enough, angry enough or paranoid enough, and is determined to die right along with their victims, there is precious little we can do to stop them.
We are left merely to mourn for the lives cut short and to suffer right along with those left behind.
Before you send your children off to school Monday, take an extra moment to hug them, tight.
Mullin is senior writer of the News & Eagle. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.