, Newburyport, MA

December 26, 2012

Our moments of silence are not enough

Newburyport Daily News

---- — To the editor:

In the week that followed the Newtown tragedy, there was a moment of silence before the Patriots game in honor of the victims and their families. Before the New York Stock Exchange opened, there was a moment of silence. At events all over the country, there were moments of silence. Those present took time to reflect on the tragedy, perhaps thinking of the Newtown families, perhaps thinking of their own.

And then the moment was over. The game began. The market opened. We took up our activities of the day. However, the silence did not end for the families of Newtown. The silence they face is more profound, more eternal — the silence of empty bedrooms at night, of graduations that will never happen, first dates that will never be, of small hands that will no longer be held.

The question we now face is what will we hear in the weeks and months to follow? Once government officials have declared their abhorrence and the talk shows give voice to new topics of outrage, will anything have been accomplished to make another massacre less likely? Or will we see the outrage tempered, calls for action fade and our national furor replaced with the resignation and inaction that followed Minneapolis, Aurora, Oak Creek, Tucson and the sad litany of so many other nightmarish acts?

Assault weapons, high capacity ammunition clips, the entertainment industry’s comfort with violent content, declining mental health resources — all complicit, all complicated, all in need of reform.

Addressing any of these could make a difference. The alternative — doing nothing — openly invites more tragedy.

A moment of silence, while respectful, is no longer enough. What is needed now is sustained action by all of us.

Robert O’Keefe