In the dark days that followed the massacre at Sandy Hook, one phrase spoke to the sliver of hope and optimism a grieving state was desperately hanging onto: Love Wins.

Two words spoke to the enduring belief that whatever hatred might have driven the shooter to commit the unthinkable, the blanket of love woven by family, friends and others across the nation was powerful enough to eclipse the darkness.

Were we naïve? Foolish, perhaps? Maybe.

If the horror of Sandy Hook was unthinkable, the depravity that followed was unimaginable. Conspiracy theorists concocted garbage fictions to drive paranoid agendas or simply grab attention. They attacked grieving parents, public officials and journalists. Those who sought to eradicate the weapons of mass destruction that make killing far too easy were vilified as un-American, as if patriotism was defined by how loudly one could chant “USA” while waving an AR-15 around.

And this month, we saw just how far we’ve fallen.

Two survivors of the massacre at Marjorie Stoneham Douglas High School in Parkland took their own lives.

Here, in Newtown, Jeremy Richman — who not only had to endure the death of his beloved daughter, Avielle, at Sandy Hook but the inanity of those who suggested her death had been staged — took his own life.

Then, a few days later, we learned from the Washington Post that in the days after Parkland, an NRA official reached out to one of the Sandy Hook truthers to explore what questions might be raised in the wake of the official narrative of the shooting in Florida.

There’s clearly a battle going on right now, but too many are looking at it wrong. It’s not so much about left vs. right or blue vs. red.

It’s between those willing to listen and learn the truth of things and those who want to manipulate facts to serve their own agendas. It’s between those who still believe in the promise of one indivisible nation and those who are trying to weaponize hate and division.

And there is no standing on the sideline anymore.

If you stand silent in the face of falsehood or manipulation or hate, you’re a party to it. If you think your gratuitous, nasty comments on Facebook are some sort of exercise in truth telling, all you’re doing is adding to the bile. If you just want to be left alone and believe this battle is someone else’s, you’re making it easier for the wrong side to win.
Love may yet win, but it surely has a long way to go.

Editorial by The Hartford Courant

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