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December 17, 2012
Newtown, Connecticut: The Need For An Alternative Definition of Hero
Newtown, Connecticut is the most horrible catastrophic tragedy one can imagine. The nation, rightly, is in agony over bright-eyed promise gunned down with evil, maniacal, precision.
Predictably, the rushes to judgment didn't wait until the little bodies were cold. Aside from the odious ersatz tut-tutting blaming an inanimate object for a deranged human's animus was the media's forcing of the politically correct narrative upon a sleepy Connecticut grade school.
Let me be very, very clear: From all reports the school's professionals did everything possible to protect and shield their charges from the mad apocalypse of Adam Lanza.
They did the best they could with what they had.
Tragically, what they had wasn't enough.
There was Principal Dawn Hochsprung, who reportedly flung herself at the gunman. Her incredibly brave resolve was not matched by the bullets that tore her to death.
Then there was Mary Sherlach, the school psychologist who joined Hochsprung in trying to apprehend Lanza. Sherlach, her protective intent her only defense, instantaneously died beside her boss.
Anne Marie Murphy was a special education teacher dedicated to a profession wrought with challenges but great rewards. She was found, dead, shielding the children she loved.
Then there was Vicki Soto, by all accounts a darling of a teacher found dead between her and her joyously alive charges.
Teacher Lauren Gabrielle Rousseau was, apparently, having the best year of her life. Newly appointed at the school she had a great boyfriend and life.
Dead. Just like that.
And, the pall over all, the dead children: Not in a scrape, no bruised knees, no bloody noses.
Dead. The week before Christmas.
But I'm reconsidering the "heroic" label afforded these poor people by the hunger mongers of the press. Not because what they did was not heroic, it was. But let me offer that there is more than one definition of hero.
What we had in Newtown was the heroism of pacifism - a form of heroism, no doubt. Through the ages are myriad stories of simple, ordinary people who, when faced with the most dreadful of circumstances, have offered themselves up, willingly, for the greater good.
I just wish the heroes of Newtown had been of a different stripe. While we will always remember their willful selflessness, I really wanted them to be the heroes who had dispatched the evil gunman with force of their own, and who now would have been all over the media as saviors rather than victims.
Mark P. Mostert, PhD, is a researcher in Virginia Beach, VA.
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