We Know Better
"Why do adults cry at happy endings?" my all of six years old daughter asked me as we walked out of a film. It was either A Walk in the Clouds (1995), or Oliver and Company (in its 1996 rerelease).

I had an answer, according to a Psychology Today article I had just read; adults cry because a happy ending confronts us with the sad difference between what we wished were true and what we know isn't. We know better.

We know better, and yet we still demand stories with happy endings, because we'd like to believe that the world could be a better place.

I write this in the aftermath of yet another mass shooting of children, after seeing a graph showing the number of gun homicides per million in rich countries. In 2019 the US had 40 people who died from guns per million people. That's twice as many as our nearest competitor (Greenland 20), four times as many as the next nearest competitor (Israel 10) and between ten and twenty times the others (Japan and Italy at a low per capita income and Ireland, Switzerland and Luxembourg at high per capita income).

We know better: most of us adults think we know a way to reduce gun violence in the US; we just can't agree on what it is. Some of us think more protection in schools is necessary: armed security agents in every school. Others think we should have less guns, less powerful guns and restrictions on who can buy and own them.

I happen to side with the restrictions people, but that's not my point in this essay.


Sandy Hook.


We are so divided, I can't see a happy ending.

And I'm crying.