JEFF PEARLMAN

Coming October 2022: "The Last Folk Hero: The Life and Myth of Bo Jackson"

Sandy Hook

A couple of hours ago I was talking to my mom about the tragedy at Sandy Hook and she said to me, with sincerity and compassion, “Just count your blessings.”

As she spoke, my two elementary school-age kids (and my elementary school-age nephew) were running around, playing. They had just opened Chanukah gifts; had just munched on brownies. My mom was 100-percent right. I am blessed. I have many blessings.

And yet, I don’t really believe in counting my blessings right now.

We are, in a sense, programmed to respond to tragedy in certain ways. We pray for the survivors, as well as the victims, and send our good thoughts their way. We bemoan how things could have been different (better school security, tougher gun laws) and damn the gunman who committed such an awful act. Then, and only then, do we count our blessings; thank God, sort of, that it wasn’t us; that it was someone else; that we’re fine.

I hate this.

Today in tiny Newtown, Connecticut, 26 people were murdered. Twenty of those were children between ages 5 and 10. It’s a sentiment that’ll be repeated 100,000 times, but it’s important enough to be repeated here: Those kids will never graduate high school; never attend college; never go out for their 21st birthdays; never graduate; never hook up in a bar; never fall in love; never travel the world; never marry; never have kids; never honeymoon. Their lives have been expunged before they even began. Somewhere out there are people who would have been their friends and spouses and co-workers. There are now children who will never be born; children of those children who will never be born. Perhaps one of these 20 kids was going to cure cancer, or open an amazing bakery, or break all of Tom Seaver’s pitching records with the Mets.

We’ll never know—all because someone woke up this morning with an intent to kill the most innocent among us.

So, no, I don’t want to count my friggin’ blessings. This isn’t about me, and about how lucky I am. It’s about them—the deceased; the parents of the deceased; the kids who lived, but will never be the same. We don’t need to reevaluate our own existences every time something awful happens elsewhere.

Sometimes, it’s simply OK to hurt for others.