Our family was in Fairfield County, Conn., over the weekend, not all that far from Newtown, where 26 students and school employees were shot and killed in December. My impression was how ordinary it all seemed around New Canaan and Norwalk, where we were for one of our children’s synchronized swimming meets.
The Y.M.C.A. where the meet was held was adjacent to a middle school, and, it being a Saturday, dozens of kids and their siblings and parents were there for lacrosse and soccer matches. In the playground where I took our son, Ellis, to burn off some energy while waiting for the swimming awards, several boys of about the ages of some of those killed at Sandy Hook Elementary School chased each other in a game of tag.
I watched a set of parents out of the corner of my eye. They played with two girls, sisters apparently, then kicked a ball back and forth between them. There was nothing unusual about it, no pall over the proceedings, just another beautiful weekend midmorning in the sun.
The swim meet drew children from much of southwestern Connecticut, and Lisa, who stayed at the pool nearly all day, said that several adults she talked with knew families who lost children at Sandy Hook. She relayed this to me in a whisper, after which it was difficult to concentrate on anything else.
These people, families, kids, were essentially no different than those devastated on that cruel December day. They were no longer just strangers I had read about in The Times or heard of on public radio; they were people like me — like you.
There is no reaching those in Congress who stand opposed to reasonable new gun restrictions, I suppose. Yet I wonder whether they might remain so indifferent if they spent a Saturday as I did reflecting on the failure of the system to save those 26 people and the families and friends who loved them.
If there is nothing else a society must do, it is to protect its young.