Sandy Hook anniversary inspires ‘What if’ question

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I sit with more than a little heartsick disillusionment as I ponder this 10th anniversary of the Sandy Hook Elementary School mass shooting. Many people thought a trauma of this scale would necessarily force us to think differently. And of course, it did, in some places, for some people. But more than 90 children have died in school shootings following Sandy Hook and over 205,000 K-12 students have been exposed to gun violence at school — we are still caught in a downward spiral.

But though disillusioned, I am not hopeless. I am convinced more than ever of the need to ask better questions, ones that can activate our imaginations — from whichever part of the political spectrum we inhabit — to see an alternative reality from the one we are creating. What if we created learning environments for our children that gave them a sense of safety and possibility, which fostered their capacity to reimagine the world they will inherit? This of course is a bigger question than how to manage rampant gun violence, but I think creating spaces where children feel safer and freer than they currently do is key to any alternative future. Questions like this can engage all of us, wherever we find ourselves on the political spectrum.

Economist Milton Friedman once said that when crisis occurs the actions taken depend on the ideas already lying around. Our work is to develop alternatives to what exists, and to keep them alive and available until the politically impossible becomes the politically inevitable.

I belong to a community dedicated to fostering those big What If? questions; it keeps my hope alive. And I am heartened by the work of so many of our local community organizations leaning in to coming up with better ideas for cradle-to-career success for our children, each doing their little part to foster those ideas forward until they become inevitable. I encourage you to find and support a community that is making a difference for children; it will make a difference for all of us, and for the world we pass on.


The Rev. Daniel Simons

St. Paul’s on the Green Episcopal Church, Norwalk


Lynn Ryan December 14, 2022 at 11:16 am

Right on Father Daniel! Your visionary “What if“ mantra is what our country needs right now.
Your forward seeking positive proposals are some of the many reasons why we are proud to call you our Pastor.

Audrey Cozzarin December 14, 2022 at 12:02 pm

Thank you, Fr. Daniel,
I love the “what if” questions you have posed. We do indeed need the power of our imaginations to shift our society ever more towards kindness, respect, and awareness of issues before they become too big to manage well.

“What if” all school children have home and classroom experiences that teach them how to have a happy and healthy life? What if they experience what it feels like to participate in a community? And, why not?

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