Dear Friends, Family, and Colleagues–
I have just returned from Connecticut, where I was visiting my family for the Christmas holidays. There, as in much of the country, the tragedy of Newtown, where 20 children and six others were killed at Sandy Hook Elementary School, is very much present. Signs at the local town halls in Connecticut read, “We are Sandy Hook.” And it cannot be denied that a part of each of us died in that tragedy.
Recent news has focused on the children and their families, their classmates, the teachers who sacrificed their lives to protect their students, as well as Adam Landsky and his family. Everyone is looking to identify the causes and the culprits, and to ensure that this doesn’t happen again. Some interesting and long-overdue discussions are taking place in the public eye about mental illness and recent budget cuts in that area, suicide among young people (more than 19,000 suicides were reported last year in the United States), the role of the media in glorifying violence as a means to resolve conflicts, and of course the need for gun control. This last topic is highly emotional and critical to the national dialogue about who we are and who we want to be. I am hopeful that these debates will continue and will contribute to a consensus that favors a public policy of violence prevention, rather than greater militarization.
Thinking of you all this holiday season and wishing you a year of renewed hope and commitment to a better world. I think especially of those of you who have been touched by violence and have chosen to walk a path of peace. I wish for you a year of realized hopes and dreams, and a renewed commitment for a more just and peaceful world. May peace reign in your hearts, in your families, and in your communities. And may the peace process in Colombia and the many efforts to build peace throughout that country and around the world flourish and blossom in the new year.
Happy new year!