Leadership Needed After Newtown This work is considered exceptional by our editorial staff.

December 26, 2012
It seems nowadays we all wince with foreboding sentiments when we turn on the news. I remember all too well coming home on a cold Friday evening after having some great, light hearted fun at a friend’s house to be greeted by every parent’s worst nightmare. Across the bottom of my television screen, three solemn words glowed with eerie purpose, “Elementary School Massacre.” My heart pounded in my throat, as I watched in complete disbelief. The horror unfolded as devastating details emerged, and then I witnessed something I never thought I would live to see. President Obama, the spokesperson of freedom and democracy, stood before our nation and the world with tears of compassion and sadness. This tragedy was so unfathomable, that the most powerful man in the world let his strong front dissolve into raw emotions. My faith in humanity was deeply shaken, and I began to question the unfortunate happenings that have come to shape our world.

Our world has turned to one of fear, paranoia, and terror. I believe this all was sourced from a fateful, clear September day when horror in its truest form occurred in Manhattan, Pennsylvania, and Washington DC. The United States still reels with pain from this unimaginable event, and yet eleven years later we are confronted with another incomprehensible act; the murder of twenty innocent children. I became consumed by the anecdotes of each small child who tragically lost their life that day, from Emilie Parker’s love of making cards for those who seemed to be caught up in despair to Dylan Hockley who greatly enjoyed some of the most simplistic things in life, such as plain spaghetti. I felt tears of anger, sorrow, and compassion stream down my cheeks as I flicked through photographs of these vivacious children. Their potential to succeed was haunting as they each possessed the earnest morals so many of us selfishly lack. In what world has the sanctity of elementary schools been shattered by automatic weapons and deranged men who slaughter twenty children and six heroic staff members?

I also find it particularly disturbing that the CEO of the National Rifle Association proposed a rather close minded solution to the mass shootings in America. He believes that the only way to reduce this violence is to have armed policemen in every single school in the US. This tactic of armed guards was used in the tragic incident of Columbine, and the guards remained outside the building while engaging in armament dialogue. Their involvement proved to be futile. Although America is undergoing a turbulent change, I would strongly oppose a world where primary and secondary education facilities are patrolled with armed men. Our schools are designed to be a location of safety and love, not of paranoia and uncertainty.

Yet, it pains me to say, this is the world we live in. We reside in a society where gun violence has become a regular occurrence and our immunity to such acts is increasing day by day. I refuse to believe this emotionless detachment to be accurate of human nature, as it is our duty to strive to improve our world, day by day, one child at a time. This improvement starts with the fundamental decisions of truly admirable leaders, which unfortunately our world lacks.

Although I supported Obama’s campaign in both 2008 and 2012, I cannot help but express a gnawing sense of disappointment. Obama has the visionary ideas and unrivalled potential, yet his thoughts are never put into motion due to his lack of action. In his 2008 Presidential Campaign, Obama strived for an assault weapons ban to reduce mass shootings, an idea I greatly supported. Yet, the only gun legislation that Obama passed once in office were two acts that permitted guns to be carried in national parks and Amtrak. I fully understand Obama’s inability to fully complete his economic recovery plan, as the market and unemployment can sometimes be out of the President’s strained grip, yet he will face the blame of the economic and social problems in the account of our history. Obama inspires hope in people and within his supporters a new sense of pride and sense of entitlement stirs within them, yet unfortunately Obama seems to be acting as a celebrity more than a President.

It seems to me that politics have become more convenient than compassionate in our time. I have always been fascinated by the Kennedys, and although John Kennedy may not have led an exemplary personal life, he harboured wonderful ideas for the United States. He believed in civil rights, equality, and was on a quest to reduce poverty, similar to his brother, Robert. These men aimed to improve the lives of all Americans, and accompanied brave ideas with courageous action. Political campaigns used to be based on each candidate’s political views and how their opinions could shape our country. In the last Presidential election, both campaigns encouraged a series of hateful messages undermining the qualifications of each candidate, instead of advocating their own policies. Both men became political bullies, and although Obama embodies the traits of a great man, no President should ever conduct himself in such a way. Elections in the United States have now become a selection of the lesser of two train wrecks versus the benefits of two capable, educated, and honest men. I long to see the leaders who were selfless in their political mannerisms, such as Martin Luther King Jr, Mahatma Gandhi, Oscar Romero, and Nelson Mandela.

Although I firmly support these views, I do not believe that this moral downfall is infinite for America. I saw Americans’ compassion shine through the oppressive darkness of the tragedy in Newtown, as countless messages of condolences reached the small town. The United States is a nation of hope, democracy, freedom, and unity. We are a country that will begin an uphill trudge to recovery, and will hopefully witness the revival of sincere politics as Obama assures the nation that he will most definitely act on this tragedy. I urge Obama to prove to the American people and the world not only the firm elements of his wonderful character, but to display his paramount leadership qualities to every man and woman.

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