I find it hard, like other people I think, to put my thoughts and feelings in order with regards to the recent tragedy in Connecticut.

Writing is thinking though, so here we go.

There are two aspects that trouble me. The first is the tragedy itself. I try to keep some emotional distance, partly because there’s nothing I can do about it, and partly because the idea of putting myself in the shoes of the people involved or the parents and relatives of the victims is a horrifying prospect, even as an exercise in empathy.

The second aspect is the reaction of the media and the people I know. I don’t have very high expectations of thoughtful analysis from traditional media (or even particularly accurate reporting for what it’s worth). I was surprised though to see how quickly and casually this seemed to turn into a public policy debate about gun control, and on how little information.

The research I’ve done so far shows that it’s a messy situation. There seems to be no conclusive evidence as to what is the better policy, and the approximations aren’t very good, and there are a lot of interested parties that muddle the situation further. If there’s one thing I’ve learned from Tim Harford’s “Adapt” book, however, is that these matters are very, very complex, and you want to make decisions based on data, rather than supporting a position based on an intuition (however well-reasoned it might seem).

But it seems early to start discussing policy when the tragedy is so near. The concern for the poorly thought-out view of the future should not overshadow the immediate grief and ultimately how we choose to deal with them. And while I find that reaching out to people I don’t know and will likely not care too much about my concern (rightfully so) is ultimately a gesture with little meaning, perhaps there is more to be said about understanding how we see ourselves in respect to the situation; how we relate, how we react, and how we choose to be touched or not by it.