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Then why do the people not demand it?

Then why do the people not demand it?

by Wolf Pascoe on December 17, 2012

What is to give light must endure burning — Viktor Frankl

Mother-TheresaThe title of this post is something Abraham Lincoln said. He was talking to political radicals who accused him of having the “slows” on slavery, assuring him it was the will of the people that he move more quickly to abolish it. The new Spielberg film has more about all that. I hope you go see it, if you haven’t already.

Today I was going to publish the second part of Napman, a post I started last week, but it will keep. I can’t stop thinking about the slow holocaust we seem to be undergoing. This occurs more or less every time something hideous and unbearable happens, but what transpired at Sandy Hook last week was too hard.

Lincoln said that a lot, it being too hard.

He usually said it on getting news that ten or twenty thousand more young men had just been slaughtered in a war that he, Lincoln, could have walked us away from. That he didn’t walk away was because of his belief that something singular in the experiment this country was living out was worth its terrible price.

In moments like last week’s, when it seems the experiment is coming apart at the edges, it helps me to remember that there once was a Lincoln, and that he was made here.




I was reading about the demographic changes that helped elect President Obama—a black man who believes that in a civilized society, adequate health care is a basic right. This tells me that despite the increasing despair around us, a majority of sane and compassionate adults exists. It’s possible for such a majority who find their voices to demand that their government implement sane and compassionate policies.

It’s possible, for example, to say no to the gun-manufacturing lobby. It’s possible to have more effective laws. There are enough people who believe that their right to own an assault weapon is not worth the lives of small children.

For it is important that awake people be awake,
or a breaking line may discourage them back to sleep;
the signals we give–yes or no, or maybe–
should be clear: the darkness around us is deep.

— William Stafford




The sun came up this morning, strange to say.

What to do?

I ask myself this question every day when the sun comes up. Most days I have no good answer. Better regulation of gun ownership is a no brainer, but there are other deep problems in this country. There are thousands of young people, especially young men, who for myriad reasons are growing up without a voice, confused, disturbed, angry.

I love Jesus, who said to us:
Heaven and earth will pass away.
When heaven and earth have passed away,
my word will remain.
What was your word, Jesus?
Love? Forgiveness? Affection?
All your words were one word:


— Antonio Machado

Writing about the end of slavery, Lincoln said, “I claim not to have controlled events, but confess plainly that events have controlled me.”

The thing I have control over, sometimes, is myself. What I’m going to do is try to listen better to my kid, especially when I feel like swatting him for irritating me with his un-reasonability. Oh, his un-reasonability.

I’m going to keep listening. I’m going to try to keep my heart open. I’m going to look for opportunities to give sanity a voice.

For starters, I’m going to write to the President and to my congressman and tell them how I feel.




The wounded parent, Part 1, Part 2




I wandered aimlessly over the web this weekend, searching for I don’t know what. These are a few words that helped.

Do We Have the Courage to Stop This? – NY Times

The Maestro and the Boy — Newtopia. What one man’s kindness did for a boy who could have gone very wrong.

Sandy Hook, guns, the mentally ill and control — Sanity from Heather

No Easy Answers — from Big Little Wolf

The School Shooting in Newtown — some perspective




Helping Children Exposed to Shocking Events – from Hand in Hand Parenting

How to Talk to Kids about the School Shooting – from Aha Parenting





Just Add Father is listening. (Add your thoughts by clicking a few lines below below, where it says comments or add one. I always respond here.)


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{ 18 comments… read them below or add one }

Kyle Bradford December 17, 2012 at 10:04 am

Wolf, I appreciate what you are saying and remain in suspended animation on the topic. The first recorded murder was Cain’s killing of his brother Abel by a billy club to the head. Did that billy club kill his brother, would it still have happened if the billy club had been outlawed? I use this tongue in cheek reference to make a much more serious point. The travesty on Friday morning would have happened whether guns were outlawed or not, it would have only been carried out in a different manner.

There seems to be this idea that taking guns out of the hands of its citizens will stop massacres. Unfortunately that is a mistaken argument. If a man soaked in evil wishes to end the life of innocents he will do so, and in the vacuum of a gun he will use a gas chamber, air plane, home made bomb, or a billy club.

And I’m afraid that the banning of guns serves as a veil to cover up a much deeper and rarely talked about issue..the depravity of the human heart and the evil that resides within it. There is evil in this world and we found out just how pure it can be on Friday morning.

There isn’t one piece of legislation or one hundred that will stop evil men from committing evil acts. Recognizing that is vitally important in this discussion. Adam Lanza didn’t own a single gun. yet he found a way to obtain them…Evil will not and can not be stopped from performing evil — either by conscience or laws.

I wish I had the perfect answer, but none of us do, nor will we ever. Sure we can make getting guns more difficult, outlawing high round magazines, and creating additional barriers from this happening again. But we must recognize that as frail humans do not have the capacity to stop the evil that resides within a depraved heart.


Wolf Pascoe December 17, 2012 at 4:07 pm


I like how the two of us read one another and listen and find what is common in our hearts, though our backgrounds are different.

I could have written so many things in response to the agony of last week; Lincoln is just what came out, because Lincoln gives me hope. I tend to believe that most people whom we come to call evil weren’t born that way–at least that’s what I pray.

As to guns, making them less available has saved lives in other countries. I think we ought to try it here. I have no illusions that it will save every life when madness visits, but I think it will save some.

Robin, in her comment below, has highlighted a piece on mental illness that I recommend. We should be talking about that as well.


Kyle Bradford December 17, 2012 at 6:29 pm

That post came across my desk. What I found rather interesting in it is how she never mentioned his father in the post. After the event I posted this to my FB page Sunday, hope you don’t mind if I re- post it here.

“I’ve given much thought on the events of recent days, both as a father and human. Placing Friday’s shooting into the context of past massacres only serves to marginalize this tragedy and that is an injustice to the victims and their families. The targeting of those considered ‘the least of these’ with such focused disregard is more than the mind can comprehend, it conflicts with our better nature
and the way we see ourselves. And because of this many will attempt to create rationalizations for why it happened.

The search is underway for answers, why, why, why! Our need for a reason speaks to our need for control. If we can diagnose and explain it then we believe we are safe from it. But evil can’t be controlled even when disguised behind a veil of personality disorder, medical illness, or social outcast. To say one is evil is to admit an understanding of right and wrong and intentionally choosing the latter. And we don’t want to believe we are capable of that.

But consider that in virtually every massacre of this type; the shooter ultimately turns the gun on himself. Why? Is that a sign of someone suffering a mental illness absent a moral conscious and unaware of his atrocities? No, I would argue that Adam Lanza was fully aware that Friday morning, he had a singular focus and knew exactly what he did, because rather than suffer and pay for his crimes he chose the supreme act of cowardice and took his own life. He chose wrong – and he knew it.

Evil is real and we found out just how much so Friday morning in Newtown Connecticut.”


Wolf Pascoe December 17, 2012 at 8:03 pm

I also wondered about the absence of a father in the Huff piece. This is a huge concern. Traditional cultures recognized that young men are by nature eruptive, and had ways of channeling that energy along constructive paths–this was called initiation. An appreciation of its importance has been lost in our society, to our peril.


heather December 17, 2012 at 11:08 am

how did the sun come up?

these are the things we feel in unison, with so many others. I’m grateful that we can come together in that.

thank you so much for including me.



Wolf Pascoe December 17, 2012 at 4:15 pm

Your heartfelt words were a source of comfort, Heather. Blessings.


Robin December 17, 2012 at 3:37 pm

I’m afraid, rather than offering hope, today I offer a link to an article that I found deeply disturbing: ‘I Am Adam Lanza’s Mother’: A Mom’s Perspective On The Mental Illness Conversation In America



Wolf Pascoe December 17, 2012 at 4:11 pm

Thanks for this link, Robin. I’ve known kids like this. Some get better. We should be talking about it.


Robin December 24, 2012 at 1:17 pm

I had not imagined that one could get better from something like what this mother described. Thank you so much for that information. It is so easy for me to fall into despair.


Wolf Pascoe December 25, 2012 at 1:15 am

Lots of love and smart parenting. Power struggles must be avoided. Laura Markham’s answer to Liza Long is referenced below. Here it is again:
Violent Rage Just Doesn’t Begin at Age 20


Jack December 17, 2012 at 4:50 pm

The world is filled with horror but the horror is always outdone by hope, this I believe to be true without question.


Wolf Pascoe December 17, 2012 at 7:01 pm

Thanks, Jack. I grew up thinking the nuclear missiles were going to arrive at my school at any moment. Touch wood, so far they haven’t.


Barbara December 19, 2012 at 8:47 pm

I tend to agree with Kyle on this one, although I confess I don’t understand the need for anyone to have an assault rifle. I think dealing with the mental illness issue would be a better solution, but I think the real solution lies in teaching kids how to deal with frustration, loss, anger, and disappointment, as well as how to treat others with respect and compassion. We’re failing our kids in that respect.
P.S. I spent the day teaching a class of kindergartners, and thinking about those other precious faces.


Wolf Pascoe December 19, 2012 at 10:23 pm

Dr. Laura Markham at Aha Parenting has been writing very effectively about teaching our kids in the wake of Sandy Hook. Here’s one:
Violent Rage Just Doesn’t Begin at Age 20


The Exception December 21, 2012 at 7:50 am

A week later and the event continues to leave a lasting impression as my mind wonders at the debates that are occurring. What about the loss of community and connectedness? I share many of Kyle’s thoughts; however, I do believe that there is an opportunity here to consider how we might minimize the chances of such actions being exhibited. It is the recognition and treatment of mental illness, I think it is also considering how isolated people are despite the communities in which we live. We spend more time texting, online, playing video games, driving alone in our cars than we do truly considering and recognizing the humanness or sameness of those in our community. I don’t think we can legislate people to treat one another with respect or empathy or compassion, but I do think that these are things that we can obtain at a societal level, maybe?


Wolf Pascoe December 21, 2012 at 9:30 am

More and more I’m seeing how important it is that we parent by connection, set limits for our children with compassion. Laura Markham had a powerful response to the Huff Post piece mentioned above: Nancy Lanza, Liza Long & the Rest of Us


pamela December 28, 2012 at 4:26 pm

Thank you for this. I agree – there is no reason anyone needs a gun in this country. Unless they are a hunter, but they don’t need pistols or freaking machine guns. Or maybe, as a wise man said a few decades ago, maybe we can just get rid of the bullets.


Wolf Pascoe December 29, 2012 at 12:06 am

As Lincoln said, ballots over bullets.


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