Two thoughts struck me today as the news remained saturated with speculation about how we might prevent ever having another mass killing again… more gun laws and regulation, better access to mental health care, armed guards in schools and shopping malls, less media and gaming violence. First, no one persuaded me that any of the measures being proposed could have stopped Adam Lanza. I suspect that those who interview these experts know this, because they never ask the obvious follow-up question: How would what you propose have stopped Adam Lanza?

Second was the thought that our desire to stop these disasters stems not only from our compassion for the victims. It is that we who have not been directly affected don’t want to have the news of these outbursts of the darkest side of our human nature interrupt our dreamlike faith in our own goodness. We know at some level that there is no way to stop some nut-case from going ballistic. Yet we want someone to do something to help us to feel better about ourselves: more access to mental health care, less access to guns. Thus we give up a little more freedom in order to keep the dream of our own goodness alive.