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Finding Compassion

Ned Hardy

The night of the unspeakable tragedies in Newtown, I babysat for two elementary-school aged kids. When I was putting the little girl to bed, she stopped me before I left her room and asked me to leave the lights on, to ward away the monsters she suspected inhabited the darkness. At this request my chest pulled tight, and, after assuring her that she was safe for the night, I tucked her in and shut her door and thanked God that all this 7-year- old child had to fear was the dark of her bedroom without a night- light, and that she need never know what a .223 caliber assault rifle sounds like when it goes off.

I watched the news incessantly last weekend, not out of a voyeuristic impulse or even compassion for those affected, though I do feel an aching sympathy for everyone in Newtown, but no, I took in every new report in a selfish need for some sort of explanation.


What possible motive could drive someone to kill dozens of people, to take defenseless chil- dren away from their parents, to devastate a community?

But with each new grue- some detail, I realized the futility of attempting to find reason in such a senseless act of horror. There is no back-story that could reconcile this massacre, no evidence that could emerge to put in perspective his cruelty. Twenty children should be writing their holiday wish lists, and six adults should have come home to their families, and regardless of why the shooter did what he did, his callousness will be no less in- comprehensible.

Although it would probably be easier if we were able to ex- plain what took place at Sandy Hook, to process, to comprehend, it is the feeling of incredulity that is important to hold onto. Our utter disbelief over such cruelty is proof that although some may trample over the line that human decency begs us not to cross, most still feel it. It is the strongest reaffirmation of our own humanity.

It’s not hard to get caught up in the awfulness that surrounds this incident, and the horrors will surely keep coming as the case unfolds. Even the public’s reaction has been, at times, despicable. There was former Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee’s proclamation that because of the separation of church and state we shouldn’t be surprised “that schools would become a place of carnage” and the plans of the Westboro Baptist Church, infamous for protesting at military funerals, to picket Sandy Hook Elementary school in order to “sing praise to God for the glory of his work in executing his judgment.”

But even the extremity and shock value of cruelty cannot abolish the tendency of so many of us towards compassion.

It is compassion that has been shown around the world for the victims of this tragedy, something that was easy to witness right here in Westport. The compassion was there in the stunned silence of entire classrooms that Friday afternoon, as students and teachers watched the terrible news as it came in. It was there in the Facebook statuses and tweets that overwhelmed our newsfeeds, solemn expressions of sympathy for and solidarity with the victims. It was there in our worry for our teachers, families and friends who live in Newtown. It was there in the overflowing crowd at the town hall vigil Sunday evening. It was there in every piece of green or white clothing we wore on Monday to show our support. And it was there in all of us, as we struggled to accept what had happened. Amid the shooter’s demonstration of the worst in people, from the Westport community and many others came the best.

Anne Frank once wrote, of the tragedies she had endured, “Despite everything, I believe that people are really good at heart.”

And, despite everything, I believe it too.

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About the Contributors
Katie Cion, Editor-in-Chief
The only girl surrounded by a brand-new Bernese Mountain puppy and four brothers (one a twin) Katie Cion is used to chaos.  She believes that she thrives in it, which is one of the reasons she and Inklings are such a perfect match.  The bedlam, she says, “is a lot like home”. A multi-talented member of the Staples community, Katie dedicates her time not only to Inklings, but also TAG, the Yearbook, Student Ambassadors, National Honors Society, and Spanish National Honors Society.  An English lover, Katie’s pursuit of Inklings and journalism helped bring her appreciation of reading and writing into a real world application. “I’m not sure if I want to pursue a career in journalism, but if I do I want to write long-form articles, like in magazines.  It’s so cool to combine the literary and reporting aspects, to see all the work the writer(s) put in, and to have all those little details,” Cion said. With a wide range of articles ranging from news to sports to opinions, Cion’s prowess in the literary field is clearly apparent, as is the pride she takes in her position as Editor-in-Chief this year. “It was so rewarding to know the people I looked up to thought I would do a good job,” Cion said.  “It was nice to get affirmation from people you respect.” With an equally impressive and overwhelming schedule, it is remarkable how well Katie manages herself.  Her composure and kindness make her not only a phenomenal addition to the Inklings staff, but also a thoughtful and capable leader.
Ned Hardy, Editor-In-Chief
Ned Hardy is a man of many passions. His latest endeavor? Bringing his expertise and vision to Inklings as Editor in Chief. Hardy joined the Inklings staff his junior year after being impressed by the awesome issues being put out. Having started out as Web A&E Editor, Hardy has the knowledge and experience to help take both the paper and the web to greater heights. He enjoys writing in- depth investigative news pieces. Although he never sets out to stir up controversy, Hardy likes taking difficult, thought provoking subject to write his articles about. But Hardy is more than just the typical investigative reporter; he is also a music enthusiast and enjoys writing album reviews that reflect his interest. Hardy says he is a big fan of rap music, especially Kanye West. When he isn’t writing for Inklings or jamming out to Kanye, Hardy, a self proclaimed foodie, might be found cookie up something delicious. Hardy’s varied passions foster an appreciation for each writer as an individual. As Editor in Chief, Hardy hopes to influence the paper by personally interacting with everyone on the staff. “This could easily become a situation where only the loudest voices are heard’, Hardy Said.  “I want everyone to have a chance to write the article they want to write or to take the picture they want to take.”

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