Weekly Democratic Address of Senator Colleen Lachowicz (Kennebec): Coming Together After Newtown CT Tragedy
Audio link here.
Good Morning. This is State Senator Colleen Lachowicz from Waterville.
There are events that happen in our lives, in our communities, and in our world that forever change us. And often, as a result, dates become emblazoned in our memory. Words take on new meanings. Conversations shift. And, often communities come together—unifying around our collective experience—our shared emotion.
Last week, America experienced one of our biggest tragedies with the school shooting in Newtown, Connecticut.
The actions of last week were senseless. Incomprehensible. Perhaps leaving all of us with more questions than answers.
But, even in the wake of this tragedy, there are some who will try to divide us by politics. As lawmakers we cannot allow it because that will not heal our communities or make our children any safer.
There is no simple answer. But it is our duty to strengthen our resolve. First, by understanding and then, by addressing the real factors that led to this tragedy. To solve the problem, we have to know what the problem is.
We must slow down. Listen to each other. Collectively we have the wisdom—from law enforcement to educators, mental health providers and family members.
As a school social worker, I have seen tragedy. I work with children every day who have encountered trauma. And as I tell them, I will say to all of us: We cannot let this horrible event define us. But, it must define how we act.
There was not a parent in this state who didn’t hug their child a little longer after Newtown. This week I worked in two schools. I cannot look those children, parents and teachers in the eye without knowing we, as lawmakers, will do everything in our power to take their right to be safe into consideration. We have a duty—a duty to the parents and children of this state to reassure them we are doing everything in our power to keep our children and schools safe. Governor LePage and his administration have done the right thing by calling for a review of safety protocols in Maine’s schools.
But we can’t stop there.
As we continue to process and understand what transpired in Newtown on that fateful day, we must look ahead and ask, what can be different? As a culture, a state, a community, a school, a family.
No matter the viewpoint, we all need to talk with each other respectfully—even when we disagree. We’re in this together. It is true that we will need to examine our existing laws and practices with regard to gun safety. But we need to also do this without demonizing gun owners. It is true we need to look at our mental health system. But we need to do this without stigmatizing mental illness. These are tough issues.
Now is not the time to blame. But it is time to take a deep breath and ask, What’s next?
We are days away from the Christmas holiday. And as we prepare to celebrate with our own families, let’s remember the heroes of last week. The teachers who stand on the front lines each day educating our children—and most critically, on that day, the selfless act of protecting the lives of children. And to the dozens of first-responders. We must be proud of them—because they make us remember what is right in our world. And, to the dozens of acts of kindness and thoughtfulness from people across our nation who buoyed a community in a time of darkness.
Thank you for listening. This is State Senator Colleen Lachowicz from Waterville. Have a good weekend—and a Happy Holiday.