There are vigils happening around Vermont and the nation to commemorate the horrible tragedy at Sandy Hook Elementary School five years ago. See calendar listings here.
The Vermont organizers have wisely chosen to name the events “Vigils for ALL Victims of Gun Violence.” That said, the vigils are organized around the anniversary of one particular tragedy that got the mainstream media’s attention. It got public attention for good reason. It was heartbreaking and overwhelming.
But it also got attention because the victims were from a wealthy and white community that does not see much physical violence. The gun violence that occurs every day in our country that traumatizes communities of color and poor people does not get mainstream media’s attention. Children are killed daily and there are not annual vigils to commemorate them.
The vigils that will take place around Vermont and around the country today are imperfect. That said, if these vigils weren’t happening, it would be problematic too. I have no solution. Just a lot of grief: grief for those who have been killed; those whose lives have been turned upside down by singular incidents of violence, like in Newtown, Connecticut; grief for those who live with the ongoing trauma of poverty and racism in communities where gun violence is a part of daily life; grief for those who are so damaged that they are driven to kill.
I am not writing to solve anything — I just want to acknowledge that it will take a range of tactics to make positive changes in the way our society operates and to share my thoughts on how complicated this all is. I also want to offer the Peace & Justice Center as a resource to those seeking solutions. I applaud those taking action, especially imperfect action. If we wait to do things perfectly, we will be paralyzed.