By Matthew Rothschild on December 14, 2012

An emotional Pres. Obama addressed the nation Friday afternoon about the horrific shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut, which took the lives of at least 20 children and six adults.

Hitting the proper note, the President said he was responding not as the president but as a parent. Wiping away a tear or two and speaking haltingly, he observed that most of the victims were "beautiful little kids between the ages of five and ten years old. They had their entire lives ahead of them: birthdays, graduations, weddings, kids of their own."

He went on: "Our hearts are broken today for the parents and grandparents, sisters and brothers of these little children. And for the families of the adults who were lost."

He also said his thoughts were with the parents and children who survived, knowing the trauma and loss of innocence they endured.

He said he and the First Lady tonight would do what parents all over the country are going to do, which is to hug their loved ones a little tighter.

But he did also speak as the President, saying: "As a country, we have been through this too many times." He mentioned "a shopping mall in Oregon, a temple in Wisconsin, a movie theater in Aurora, or a street corner in Chicago." And he said, "We're going to have to come together and take meaningful action and prevent more tragedies like this, regardless of the politics."

On one TV screen I was watching, a ticker read: "Pres. orders flags at half-staff."

While appropriate, that can't be the "meaningful action" he rightly said was needed.

And I'm reminded that during the Presidential campaign, he studiously dodged the issue of gun control.

He -- and we -- can dodge it no longer.

If you liked this story by Matthew Rothschild, the editor of The Progressive magazine, check out his story "Mazal Tov to Dan Savage and Terry Miller on Their Wedding."

Follow Matthew Rothschild @mattrothschild on Twitter.

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Editor's note: This contribution by the late journalist I.F. Stone first appeared in our January 1975 magazine.

On November 20 every year for the last fifteen years, transgender people gather for vigil ceremonies to acknowledge...

Yesterday the U.S. Senate narrowly defeated a bill that would approve construction on the Keystone XL pipeline.

By Wendell Berry

Manifesto: The Mad Farmer Liberation Front

Love the quick profit, the annual raise,
vacation with pay. Want more 
of everything ready made. Be afraid 
to know your neighbors and to die.
And you will have a window in your head.
Not even your future will be a mystery 
any more. Your mind will be punched in a card 
and shut away in a little drawer.
When they want you to buy something 
they will call you. When they want you
to die for profit they will let you know. 
So, friends, every day do something
that won’t compute. Love the Lord. 
Love the world. Work for nothing. 
Take all that you have and be poor.
Love someone who does not deserve it. 
Denounce the government and embrace 
the flag. Hope to live in that free 
republic for which it stands. 
Give your approval to all you cannot
understand. Praise ignorance, for what man 
has not encountered he has not destroyed.
Ask the questions that have no answers. 
Invest in the millennium. Plant sequoias.
Say that your main crop is the forest
that you did not plant,
that you will not live to harvest.


Say that the leaves are harvested 
when they have rotted into the mold.
Call that profit. Prophesy such returns.
Put your faith in the two inches of humus 
that will build under the trees
every thousand years.
Listen to carrion—put your ear
close, and hear the faint chattering
of the songs that are to come. 
Expect the end of the world. Laugh. 
Laughter is immeasurable. Be joyful
though you have considered all the facts. 
So long as women do not go cheap 
for power, please women more than men.
Ask yourself: Will this satisfy 
a woman satisfied to bear a child?
Will this disturb the sleep 
of a woman near to giving birth? 
Go with your love to the fields.
Lie easy in the shade. Rest your head 
in her lap. Swear allegiance 
to what is nighest your thoughts.
As soon as the generals and the politicos 
can predict the motions of your mind, 
lose it. Leave it as a sign 
to mark the false trail, the way 
you didn’t go. Be like the fox 
who makes more tracks than necessary, 
some in the wrong direction.
Practice resurrection.

Wendell Berry is a poet, farmer, and environmentalist in Kentucky. This poem, first published in 1973, is reprinted by permission of the author and appears in his “New Collected Poems” (Counterpoint).

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