Here are some thoughts on a few events of the past year that captured the public’s attention and that stick out in my mind:
- Election 2012 — last Nov. 6 brought to a close a year of intense, often acrimonious campaigning for the presidency and other elected offices at the local, state, and federal level.
The year seemed like a decade. Politicians collectively spent billions of dollars to get elected or hold onto positions in which they were the incumbent.
Democratic and Republican presidential campaigns alone tipped the $2 billion mark. With congressional, gubernatorial, and other campaign spending taken into account, the total amount came to $6 billion or so.
Without getting into specific candidates or issues, when all was said and done, the people overwhelmingly voted for an America of greater fairness, tolerance and peace.
But the main thing this writer took away from the last election cycle is that votes cannot be bought. And, more and more, the American people cannot easily be fooled.
- 121212 — that is the name of last week’s benefit concert for the victims of superstorm Sandy. Last October, Sandy was responsible for over 125 deaths in the northeastern United States and an estimated $65 billion in property damage.
The 121212 benefit at Madison Square Garden was made available to more than 2 billion viewers worldwide and raised more than $30 million from ticket sales alone.
The event featured some of the biggest stars in show business, who donated their live performances in order to ensure that, as host Billy Crystal said, “100% of the proceeds go to people in New York and New Jersey, people who lost everything in the storm.”
One of the evening’s big name performers was Bruce Springsteen. “The Boss” kicked off the concert with a song of inspiration and strength. Here’s a few lines from that song:
Leave behind your sorrows
Let this day be the last
Tomorrow there will be sunshine
And all this darkness past
- The Sandy Hook Elementary School massacre — little did anyone suspect that Springsteen’s impassioned opening song, “The Land of Hopes and Dreams,” would be appropriate for another tragedy which was to follow just a few days later — the shooting of 20 children; six school staff, including the principal, school psychologist and teachers; and the suicide of the 20-year-old shooter, who also killed his mother.
Over the past decade or so, America has endured such tragic incidents, beginning with the 1999 Columbine shootings. But Sandy Hook was different. Perhaps it is because the victims were mostly innocent children, many of them just 6 years old.
Perhaps it is because Newtown, Conn., — where the school is located — is an idyllic town where well-to-do residents had moved away from big city hustle and bustle and crime and misery to create a place of peace and safety.
Perhaps it is because the tragedy thrust into public consciousness thorny, interrelated issues of gun control, school safety, and mental illness as no other school shooting incident — and there have been many — had done. I do not know.
What I do know is that tragedies like Sandy Hook or Hurricane Sandy bring let us know how vulnerable we all are. Such tragedies also bring out the best in Americans, particularly our first responders, teachers, and common folk, too.
And so, as we near the end of what has been a year marked by mean-spiritedness and great natural disasters, I can only think of those parents of the lost children from Sandy Hook Elementary School. But I know, in this land of hopes and dreams, things will get better.
In a few days, media outlets from around the world will leave Newtown and Sandyhook for other “breaking news.” The president and Congress will take a bipartisan approach to the gun control issue and, most likely, come up with nothing.
A sea of tears will dry to form a field of hope. Our hearts will ache. But, in the end, the gaping wounds will heal, though the scars remain forever. Though we walk on weary legs, we must move on.
As it is written, weeping may endure for a night, but joy cometh in the morning.
Have a nice day.
Primus Mootry is an Anderson resident.