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From joyful to mournful

Published: Tuesday, Dec. 18, 2012 1:15 a.m. CDT

Friday’s senseless shootings at the Newtown, Conn., elementary school caused overwhelming pain, shock, fright, anger, grief and sorrow.

Twenty students slain. Six adults killed at the Sandy Hook school. The shooter’s mother dead. The shooter dead, too, by his own hand.

All this tragedy just days before Christmas.

Experts say easy access to guns, America’s tolerance for violent movies and video games, and inadequate responses to mental health problems are among contributing factors. A similar crime earlier this year at a Colorado movie theater claimed 12 lives.

When someone abandons reason, nightmarish crimes can be committed with any weapon.

The nation’s worst attack on a school happened in 1927 in Bath Township, Mich. A disgruntled 55-year-old local official killed his wife, blew up his house, then ignited explosives at the school, killing 38 children, two teachers, the superintendent, two others, and himself.

Determined mass killers don’t need guns or dynamite. Nicholas Sheley of Sterling, convicted of committing two murders in June 2008, used blunt instruments to beat his victims to death. Sheley is charged with six other killings.

When the numbness caused by the latest act of irrational violence subsides, Americans and their leaders must put politics aside, approach the problem rationally, and act to lessen the likelihood of future mass killings.

At this point, we don’t know exactly what action our leaders need to take.

But we do know that, during times of grief, acts of kindness help restore faith in humanity.

The Christmas spirit encourages such acts.

As reported last week, members of Amazing Grace Church in Sterling embarked on a “12 Blessings of Christmas” campaign to do a series of anonymous good deeds during the days leading up to Christmas.

Among the acts of kindness are paying for someone else’s food at the drive-through window, dispensing gift certificates, taking cookies and cards to nursing home residents, delivering food baskets to the homeless shelter, and wrapping gifts for mall shoppers.

Through small and simple gifts and gestures, church members send a powerful message: We care.

Such gestures do more. They offer hope to the hopeless.

In the mournful aftermath of Sandy Hook, hope is one gift that is sorely needed.

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