As the world of public broadcast talks about the horrific violence and loss of 20 young innocent children and 6 adults this Friday morning, I search my heart for words.

I first learned of the carnage at Sandy Hook Elementary in an email sent by a friend who is closely connected with one family whose little girl was murdered by the 20 yr. old mentally ill man named Adam Lanza.

This Sunday morning on his show Face the Nation, Bob Schieffer asked “To what depths of horror must we sink before legislation is enacted to prevent such tragedies.” He asked rhetorically, “Is this the new normal?”

Politicians are reluctant to challenge the NRA and its powerful gun lobby. And while private citizens have no real need for assault weapons, many people do want guns for hunting, recreation and self-protection in their homes.

But are we ever going to get rid of guns – no we are not. Should we make it much harder for mentally ill people to own guns – surely that makes good sense. However guns like drugs will continue to be available.

I think the first thing we need to take care of is how we help children process this. In many schools, children already experience lock-down drills for exactly such eventualities — relatively rare, but far less rare over the last couple of decades.

When 911 happened it took us all to the previously unthinkable, and yet now it occupies a less up front place in our conversations and way of life. But this tragedy speaks to a very real past, present and future truth about human life!!

What can anyone say? President Obama became so choked up by this unthinkable tragedy that he fell silent for what seemed a long time before continuing his comments. Hearts are suffering everywhere!

I think the lesson, again and again is about Love. There are of course some people so mentally ill that these words remain incomprehensible, but for the majority of us who operate from a more rational place, we must recognize the devastating impact of irrational rage!

Nothing defines us more than what we do when we are afraid and in pain. If our fears are acted out violently – if we use our pain and sense of unfairness to justify our aggression toward others, violence is an unavoidable consequence.

The media has also been speaking about what the role of the mental health profession should be in eliminating these kinds of situations. The mental health community needs to play an enormous role. We have the ability to provide greater understanding and the tools to help people move beyond the rage and other emotional pain that can lead to these rare tragedies. What’s required is far greater access to and acceptance of existing therapies.

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Jeff Levine

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