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Editorial: Hug your kids extra tight this Christmas

It's been less than a week since the horrific shooting that left 20 children dead at a Newtown, Conn. elementary school, and already the grief that initially brought the nation together is morphing into anger that's tearing us back apart.

It's natural that we want someone or something to blame. We want an explanation. We want to find the root of the problem so we can rip it out and make sure nothing like it ever happens again. We want to feel safe. We want our children to be safe.

In our haste to find answers, we point fingers.

Already, lines have been drawn and people are taking their sides.

The major argument thus far has centered on gun control. Gun violence is the direct result of loose gun laws, some say. If only we had stricter gun control, those kids in Connecticut could still be alive today.

But gun lobbyists say the opposite, arguing that if the teachers in that school had been allowed to carry guns, they could have defended themselves and their students.

Others accuse the nation's mental health system, saying it fails to identify and help people who show signs of mental illness.

It's actually a lack of religion in our schools that's to blame, other voices chime in. Taking God out of the educational equation leads to moral ambiguity in our youth.

Still others claim violent movies and video games are the culprits.

None of these arguments are wrong, necessarily.

The troubling thing is, when they're taken apart and individually scrutinized, instead of considered as a whole, then we're all missing the point. And we're allowing our different viewpoints to cloud our collective vision for a better future.

Finger-pointing is counterproductive. It spares us from having to have those truly meaningful, difficult discussions that can lead to real change. It corrodes the American spirit and becomes a crutch we lean on for comfort until things 'go back to the way they used to be.'

If there's anything that the Connecticut shooting has taught us, it's that we can't afford to ignore those kids of discussions any longer.

It's up to us as a nation to decided whether to come together in our shared shock and horror, working through our differences to enact some positive change, or to shove our ideological stakes into the ground, debating and further dividing ourselves.

If we ever hope to really get at the heart of violent crime, we need to see it for the sum of its parts. Just as it takes diverse ideas and situations to create complex problems, it takes diverse ideas and situations to solve them.

As a recent editorial in the Fargo Forum states, "Reluctance to talk seriously about what is surely one of the nation's virulent maladies is not acceptable. It's not rational It's not hoe complex problems are solved."

As you celebrate Christmas with your families this year, remember to live out the lessons of the season: Peace, love, joy and hope. Be thankful for your loved ones, and hold them extra close.

And keep in your thoughts the 26 families in Connecticut who will be spending their holidays very differently this year.