, Salem, MA

December 26, 2012

Letter: Be kind to one another

The Salem News

---- — To the editor:

On the same day that Adam Lanza committed a senseless act of violence, unfathomable until now, my sister, one of my best friends, gave birth to a beautiful baby boy, Jack. Jack shares his birthday with my sister, his mother, making Dec. 14 one of the happiest days in the history of my family. This same day is now the worst day in the history of countless numbers of families.

Although we currently do not know (and may never know) Adam’s motive for taking his, his mother’s and 26 other people’s lives, it is clear that Adam was suffering from mental problems so severe that he somehow felt this was necessary. How else could someone do such a thing? Perhaps Adam was born with a mental illness, or maybe he developed an illness as a result of unhappy experiences throughout his life. Whatever the scenario, Adam obviously had problems.

I know that for many people with mental illnesses, the thought of taking their own or someone else’s life will never cross their mind, but there are many who have these thoughts. This is my plea to those people to seek help. There are options available. Please, please explore them. Your life and the lives of people around you are valuable. I refuse to believe that we live in a country, a world, where human lives, 20 of which had just begun, can be devalued like they were Dec. 14.

In addition, I urge everyone to be kind to one another. For many, faith in humanity can be restored by witnessing or experiencing simple acts of kindness. I know that, for me, hearing someone say “thank you” after I hold the door for them is enough to turn the tables on a sour mood. I in no way want to make excuses for Adam, a person that I labeled as a monster Dec. 14, but maybe Adam needed one more “thank you” to realize that life is precious and worth living.

The 28 people who were killed in the massacre at Sandy Hook Elementary School were people’s kids, their cousins, brothers, sisters, nieces and nephews (among others). These family members must now go on without them.

I have yet to meet Jack (my sister, brother in-law and Jack live in London, England), but I can’t imagine life without this hours-old human being. My heart has grown immensely since hearing about his birth, and I won’t even meet him for several months. However, I know that I will do anything for him. So for Jack, and for all of the lives that just started on Dec. 14, 2012, I will do my best (through this piece and through acts of kindness) to ensure that something like this never happens again.

I know that Jack will one day learn of the tragedy that occurred in Newtown, Conn., as he was being welcomed into the world. My hope, however, is that such mass shootings are unthinkable to Jack because none will ever occur again during his lifetime. Just as I learned about unimaginable acts, such as slavery and segregation through history lessons, this is my hope for Jack, that mass shootings are history.

Sarah Champigny