News From Terre Haute, Indiana

News

December 17, 2012

MAUREEN HAYDEN: For now, collective grief is most appropriate way to respond to tragedy

INDIANAPOLIS — Last Friday afternoon, in the wake of the unfathomable tragedy that struck the community of Newtown, Conn., Indiana Gov. Mitch Daniels directed that flags throughout the state be lowered to half-staff until sunset Tuesday.

I live near the Indiana Statehouse, in a small apartment with a clear view of the building. As I watched the flag that sits atop the Statehouse lowered that afternoon, I felt a convulsion of grief.  

It must have felt that way for so many Americans.

The flag on our state capitol was lowered in accordance with a directive from President Barack Obama. As a sign of respect for the 20 schoolchildren and seven adults who were, as the president’s proclamation stated, “victims of the senseless acts of violence” of a gunman, the flags on public buildings and grounds across the land came down, down, down before finally resting at half-staff.

So, too — in a collective act of grief — came down the flags at all U.S. embassies, consulates, military bases, naval stations and other American government facilities around the world.  

The tradition of the half-staff flag is rich and deep, dating back centuries. There are procedures and protocols for how and when it should be done — hoisting it to the peak before lowering it; leaving it lowered for 30 days on the death of a president, for example — but mostly it’s about symbolism: It is a sign of national mourning.

Collective grief seems the right thing now. Before the rush to judgment about gun laws, before the calls to arm every schoolteacher or disarm every American, before the inevitably ugly political debates that will soon ensue, we need to feel the grief.

I suspect like so many Americans, I spent most of my weekend parceling out time for the news, dipping in for minutes at a time before turning away from the television, putting away the newspaper and turning off my computer.

We needn’t turn away from it for long. The real tragedy of Newtown would be to ignore the hard things we need to talk about, both in our homes and in our Statehouse. Among them: our easy access to guns, our culture of violence, our ignorance of mental illness that leads to such lethal craziness.

I don’t how know the conversation should be shaped, but here are two things that seem right to include:

First, we pride ourselves in Indiana on our fiscal conservatism, but the dollars we spend on mental health services are well below the national average. According to the National Alliance on Mental Illness, Indiana’s per capita spending on mental health services is about $80; the national average in $120.

Second, here’s another statistic: Gun deaths in Indiana outpace motor vehicle deaths. We’re one of 10 states where that’s occurred in recent years. One major reason, of course, is how intentional we’ve been as a state and nation to bring down the number of traffic-related deaths. We’ve supported a range of fatality-prevention initiatives, such as mandatory seatbelt use, better highway design and intolerance for drunk driving. In short, we treated traffic deaths like a major public health problem.

Shouldn’t we be treating gun deaths the same way?

Maureen Hayden covers the Statehouse for the CNHI newspapers, the Tribune-Star’s parent company. She can be reached at maureen.hayden@indianamediagroup.com.

1
Text Only | Photo Reprints
News
Latest News
TribStar.com Poll
AP Video
Raw: Space X Launches to Space Station Man Charged in Kansas City Highway Shootings Raw: Fire Destroys 3 N.J. Beachfront Homes Captain of Sunken SKorean Ferry Arrested Raw: Students Hurt in Colo. School Bus Crash Raw: Magnitude-7.2 Earthquake Shakes Mexico City Deadly Avalanche Sweeps Slopes of Mount Everest Raw: Pope Presides Over Good Friday Mass Obama Awards Navy Football Trophy Raw: Massive 7.2 Earthquake Rocks Mexico Drought Concerns May Hurt Lake Tourism Raw: Church Tries for Record With Chalk Jesus Anti-semitic Leaflets Posted in Eastern Ukraine Police Arrest Suspect in Highway Shootings Raw: Faithful Celebrate Good Friday Worldwide Vermont Goat Meat Gives Refugees Taste of Home Superheroes Descend on Capitol Mall Today in History for April 18th Ceremony at MIT Remembers One of Boston's Finest Mayor Rob Ford Launches Re-election Campaign
NDN Video
Raw: Fire Destroys 3 N.J. Beachfront Homes Raw: Space X Launches to Space Station My name is Cocaine Lohan Gets Candid About Her Sex List The 2014 New York Auto Show Meet Johnny Manziel's New Girlfriend Chelsea Clinton Announces Pregnancy Funny: Celebrating Easter with Martha Stewart and Friends Man Accuses 'X-Men' Director Bryan Singer of Sexually Abusing Him As a Teenager Man hit with $525 federal fine after he doesn't pay for soda refill Lea Michele & Naya Rivera Feuding? Jabari Parker declares for the NBA draft Singing Nun Belts Out Cyndi Lauper New West, Texas Explosion Video Swim Daily, Throwback Thursday Don't Be A Tattletale: Bad Bullying Tips For Students The trillest thoughts on marijuana "RHOA" Star Charged With Battery Grizzly Bears Get Snowy Birthday Party Weatherman draws forecast when another technical glitch strikes WGN
Parade
Magazine

Click HERE to read all your Parade favorites including Hollywood Wire, Celebrity interviews and photo galleries, Food recipes and cooking tips, Games and lots more.
  • -

     

    March 12, 2010

activity
Real Estate News