It might be easier if we could just look away. And we may be starting to.

When a gunman opened fire in an Oregon mall this week, killing two shoppers, it was news but not a national shock.

It was not Virginia Tech, or a congresswoman, or that movie theatre in Aurora. There was no looking away then, and there is no looking away now from Newtown, Connecticut -- no looking away from so many lives lost; so many that had just begun.

But are we really looking?

We know, of course, that parents of the murdered children are in pain. But do we let ourselves imagine the full weight of that heart-crushing ache? Do we think about how they will feel when their own homes are not so much a comfort as a reminder of loss? Do we picture ourselves, for example, already sick with grief and then stumbling onto a carefully hidden present that a child did not live to see?

And are we really looking at the survivors? For children, the future should be an open door to the world’s light and to the vast possibilities of life. But in the nights to come, when they ask if the doors are locked, will they still see those possibilities? Or will lost security and newfound distrust change the choices they will make and the lives they will live?

Today -- once again -- a country where guns are a right, and health care is not, faced someone sick and well-armed.

While this disease is not unique to the U.S., and while gun control is no cure for madness, even modest calls for background checks and smaller bullet clips are wildly controversial. And political leaders have looked away.

That may change. A visibly shaken President Barack Obama today said, “We’re going to have to come together and take meaningful action.”

Whatever that action is, there will be debate and no perfect result. Still, there is a need to try. Because the only choices are try -- or accept.

Today, as children were led from the slaughter, teachers tried to ward off at least a few of their nightmares by getting them to cover their eyes.

But when it is time to ask children to look away, it is time to ask adults not to.