Stunned by the news out of Newtown, Conn.

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Like millions of Americans, I am stunned by what took place yesterday in Newtown, Conn. What level of evil does it take to gun down little children? What level of evil does it take to act out with violence against the most innocent among us?

I’ve written often about the connection between animal cruelty and domestic violence. I believe the connection is real. The mentality (or maybe the mental illness) it takes to inflict brutality on children or on animals is one and the same.

We, as a nation, must take the next step in addressing violence against the innocent. And the next step needs to be a major one. We have a mental health problem in this country and beyond it we have a violent problem in this country. Unfortunately, the people in charge keep looking the other way. They are currently arguing about whether or not to raise taxes a little bit on very wealthy people and about tax loopholes, while real issues that impact regular people are sent back to committee.

Raise the damn taxes on the wealthy; get our fiscal house in order and start focusing on programs that help real people.

I’m hearing some politicians suggest health programs should be cut, and most notably even for mental health programs. We have an extremely troubling mental health problem in our country. It is not being addressed as it should be. The shooter in Newtown reportedly had mental health problems and if these reports are true, the end result reared its head in the most horrible way.

But few people will talk about the big picture. As you read this post, women across the country are terrified in living with abusive spouses and kids are being abused in horrible ways. Animals are being abused by sick people who take pleasure in inflicting pain on innocent creatures. Kids are growing up in homes with troubled parents – parents who grew up in homes with troubled parents.

We have a HUGE addiction problem in the US. Generations of young people have turned to drugs or alcohol to mask their pains. Pleasure in their lives comes from a bottle or a pill or a powder or something they smoke. Coping skills come in the form of a drug prescribed by some hoodlum on a street corner or back alley.

Some will never act out against others. They will hold their pain inside; still needing help within the hidden shadows of their own lives.

But too many will act out. Some it is also hidden in the shadows. How many kids will be abused today? How many wives or girlfriends are living in abusive situations? How many dogs and cats will be tortured today? A vast, vast majority of these acts will never make the nightly news or will never make it into newspaper or Internet headline.

As I’m writing this post, there is a cable news show is on the background in my office and someone just used the term “culture of violence.” Yes, we are deep inside a culture of violence and immediate gratification. Put mental problems and drugs and alcohol in the mix and it’s a recipe for disaster.

At minimum we must act now to protect our kids and innocent animals and anyone without a voice or the ability to protect themselves. Will this terrible tragedy in Newtown, Conn. become an important tipping point? Will it be the moment in history when a nation awakens to the problems other people and other beings are facing?

It’s about mental health and it’s about gun safety and it’s about violence.

THE best way to honor those who were lost yesterday to a tragedy in a small New England town is to make this the definitive moment in history when a nation rises together to say, “Enough is enough and we will act now.”


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