Sad Times For The Nation

I’m glad it’s raining tonight.  I like to think the sky is crying for the sins of Man.  Let it cry for me, because somehow I can’t.  I’m numb.  In shock.  I’m not sure I know what I’m feeling right now.  Maybe haunted is as close as I can describe it.  Empty and haunted.

I don’t like thinking about school children getting killed.   And yet there it is.  A pretty real deal.  How do I deal with it?  Or not deal with it?  Try not to think about it?  That works for a while, and then you find yourself thinking about it.  There’s a nagging feeling in me that says I should be trying to think about it.  I should be meditating on it.  Giving it my full focus.   Learning something, anything, from something like this.

I feel I owe it those little lives.  Maybe make their deaths not feel so in vain.  If this situation makes me think and feel things deep enough, deep enough to make some significant changes in my life, for the better, then I can carry around a little tribute to them, in the quality of my character.

The whole nation has a chance to take a good look at itself.  Take a little personal inventory as a people.  What’s going on here?  Why is this happening?

I’m all for stricter gun laws.  I’m all for making it harder for fuck-ups and maniacs to get guns.  Even if it prevents one similar tragedy, it will have been worth it.  The problem is that there’s already an ocean of guns out there, and with the slightest determination they can be obtained illegally.  Killing school kids is against the law.  Getting a gun illegally to do it, would not be the deal-breaker.  Then there’s the guy who seems normal enough to pass any screening, only to one day go postal.  I just don’t know if the problem can be legislated away.

Not here.  It’s too late.  You’re not going to make it like Europe with gun deaths here.  Even if you made all guns illegal, tomorrow.  Sorry, the genie is out of the bottle.  Pandora’s out of her box.  It doesn’t mean you can’t try to rope it back in, but don’t fool yourself into thinking you can fix the problem.  With laws.

The problem here seems to stem from a malady of the human spirit.  Individually demonstrated by this endless parade of deranged assailants, but perhaps shared, in some way, by us as a whole.  Maybe something cultivated in the Petri dish of our society, by our culture’s bacteria.  Isolated, fearful, alienated, self-seeking, self-absorbed.  Do I have any of that in me?  Well, not as bad as whatever nut that goes ballistic.  But any?

Well, yeah…sometimes.

Not-as-bad-as-that-guy is the ultimate cop-out.  Take it from a recovering alcoholic who’s used it almost to death.  It’s not a significant excuse, in any practical way.  But boy, I use it.  Whenever I don’t want to look at myself.  Just throw all the ugliness on someone else.  There’s your villain, Sheriff.  Get a bucket of tar and some feathers.

It’s a loathsome little ploy.

It doesn’t get me very far.  After all, the only villain I need to be concerned about is still at large.  He might even be hiding out very close to the family farm…writing this.

What’s the right way to process something like this?  Do I just ignore it?  Pretend it doesn’t affect me?  Or do I use it to scare me? Make me feel helpless.  Bitter.  Even more separate from others.

I went to a funeral earlier this week.  A buddy of mine’s sister.  Too young.  Lots of people feeling very sad and that made me feel very sad.  I didn’t know her, but watching the effect of her death, on so many people was profound.  Lot’s of people getting real–their hearts really torn apart.  Then there were others, either being stoic, or just trying to check out.  You can never know.  How it’s affecting them.

Funerals always affect me.  Even when I think I can be there and check-out.  There’s questions that pop up.  Big ones.  Mortality, whether I acknowledge it, is acknowledging me.

I can be brave and look back at it.  Accept it, and then figure out what kind of a legacy I want to leave behind.  What do I want to be remembered for?  Killing a bunch of schoolchildren?  Making a killing at business?   Killing anything that got in my way?  My competition.  My enemies.  My humanity.

How about having been a good brother, father, son, husband, or friend?  Someone who managed to overcome whatever personal demons enough to have a positive effect on others?  Maybe even go for broke.  Go for hero.  Become heroic.  Stop bitching about the ship sinking and start bailing.  At least your side of the boat.  That part is still connected to the rest of us.  I think we’re just beginning to get this concept in this country.  That we go down together.

Political, religious, cultural, socioeconomic differences separate us far enough to cause trouble, but not far enough away to where that trouble doesn’t affect us collectively.  It’s time we all become team players.  Everybody trying their hardest.  Passing the ball.  Taking the foul.  Sharing the glory.  And the pain of loss.

After all, when it really comes down to it, isn’t that what it’s all about?  Not just people being sad at your funeral, but sad for the right reasons.  Sad enough to effect some change in their lives for the better.  To live on in a part of them.  To open their hearts a little more.   To let more light in.

Whether anything has any essential, inherent meaning is a question I’ll let the philosopher’s argue over.  I know with certainty that I can give meaning to things.  I am a namer of things.  I can decide what my life means to me.  I can decide what the lives of others mean to me.

I can’t decide what my life means to others though.  That’s on them.

But maybe, I can direct that meaning towards a particular direction.  Towards something good.

I can start by doing that with the funerals of those before mine.  I can make their deaths mean something that will direct me towards a particular direction.  Towards something good.  In me.

Studies show that a few good people can do a lot of good for many.  We keep seeing how the opposite is true.  So we need a few good people.  Especially these days.

If the death of those little lives can move enough hearts, towards a particular direction–towards something good, then they will have done their work.

And then we will have to do ours.

All we can do is hope there’s enough of us.

It’s probably a good time to pray.

Hoping a new day will dawn.

Hoping a new day will dawn.

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22 responses to “Sad Times For The Nation

  1. I really appreciate this post. Thank you. I went to bed last night thinking about this and woke up feeling – this is how I’m going to respond to another random act of violence – with DEFIANT ACTS OF KINDNESS.

    I feel this is an appropriate response. An act of kindness, no matter how small or seemingly insignificant, is a ripple on the big ocean. Enough ripples make a wave Enough waves, a storm.

    Why not encourage each other in this way? Stand up for humanity! Make waves! Don’t be ‘done down’ by this utterly selfish act. This is how I feel.

    A cynic might point out that a family killed by an American drone attack in Pakistan or Waziristan suffers just as much pain as the people in Connecticut, so what’s the point? We’d be doing defiant acts of kindness permanently.

    That would be a fine thing. I would like that world better.

    President Obama has called for ‘meaningful action’. But this isn’t a problem for legislation or laws. For government or councils. It’s a problem that only humanity can solve – by choosing to be more human.

    So, I’m off out today to continue (as I’ve been doing this for years) my campaign. I don’t know how, where or when. But today I will make another little ripple with a defiant act of kindness.

    Wanna stand with me?

    • Thanks, John. Yeah, Dave just reminded me of all the little kids getting blown away all around the world, sometimes at the hand of our own government. I don’t deny that. Again, a lot of stuff going on that makes me want to tear out my hair. I’m lucky to have a lot of it, but at this rate…
      So I guess it come down to making a difference when I can. Trying to be more aware of when those opportunities arise is a big one for me. If I don’t pay attention, I wind up adding forehead slapping, along with the hair-pulling. Thanks for coming by, mate.

  2. Well said, Marius. My heart is aching with grief over this. Being a mother, and now a grandmother, leaves me all too open to imagination…what if that had been my sons/s? Are my grandchildren going to be safe at school? I don’t know if enacting stricter laws on gun ownership will help. I don’t think it’s right that just anyone can get hold of semi or automatic weapons. I’m all for decent citizens having the right to bear appropriate arms. But what does a regular citizen need with an automatic or semi automatic weapon and tons of rounds? I’ve read that 40% of people who buy guns don’t have background checks. That is insane to me! People with a history of mental illness, criminal or violent behavior should not be allowed to own guns. But that’s just a tiny part of the problem. If people with heart disease went around on gun toting, killing sprees, we’d deal with them in an instant. Mental illness is a real problem that is being ignored in this country. I don’t have any concrete answers. I just know that we need to do something! I like what the above poster shared – that it’s time we all practice doing good things in our lives. When I pray for peace on earth, I pray that it begins with me. I cannot pray that everyone else in the world becomes peaceful overnight without me chipping in to do my best. Evil flourishes when good men do nothing. Wake up, America! How many more such tragedies is it going to take before we take some kind of step toward remedying the problem?

    • Thanks, Lili, A friend and I were talking the other day about mental health patients being turned loose in the streets. We thought it was ironic that Reagan started the whole process, almost gets killed by one that should have been hospitalized, and that scene becomes responsible for The Brady Bill. Strange little dance there. I guess the whole life on Earth is a strange little dance. Let’s do it holding our loved ones close. Love to you.

  3. The hard part to understand is that we make our world. I look around me and think “The way this looks, feels, is – is all from choices.” Not just acts of kindness, but all our acts make the world. How we move in it, treat others, look people in the eyes or not, take a moment to acknowledge the humanity in others before we order our latte…all that counts to build our world.

    Big hugs. See you soon (today, I hope).

    • I do wonder, “Why did I create this?” What was I thinking?
      Anyway, you’re right. It does come down to the nitty-gritty differences in the way I approach people in my everyday life. Like they are annoying background players in my Personal Epic Saga? Or somebody to make some kind of positive connection to. Even if it’s just while getting my driver’s license renewed. I know you throw your love bombs all over the place. I’ve seen it. And…I will see you, at Mr. Spikes today!!!

  4. Marius I’m glad you put it in this light,all I could do was be pissed off and frustrated about these scumbags, if I can change me just a little then these young kids have made their mark after all.

    • Dude, so good to hear from you. Yeah, I can get pretty spun out about things like this. I find myself making all kinds of angry pronouncements, like Hitler in his bunker, screaming empty threats and issuing impossible directives. Then when I calm down, I realize I can only do what I can do. For me, that means doing what I can to improve the lives of those around me. Even if it’s only in a small way. I think of Black Sabbath’s Wizard. “Everyone’s happy…when the wizard walks by.” Da-da-da-da. Thanks for walking by, my old friend. I really love and miss you. Hope to see you in Santa Fe soon. Happy Holidays, ya maniac.

  5. thank you, Marius. lovely, honest, heartfelt writing. as a mother, a teacher, and simply a sentient being, this horrible tragedy is unbelievably hard to process. but also very necessary to face. let us all remember.
    love & hugs to you.

  6. Well done, my blogging bff. You nailed it when you said “But maybe, I can direct that meaning towards a particular direction. Towards something good.” Exactly. The best I can come up with to combat the evil forces is a ton of prayer and a concerted effort to not be a total selfish douche. Compassion helps too. So does shutting up and sitting still. Thanks for this. Love ya.- Sean

    • Mr. Mahoney, Glad you liked the piece. Yeah, I figured you’d already know the score. All the survivors of Hell Travel Tours tend to know what to do when The Bummer descends. Grateful to have you manning your battle-station. Now, we got another bandit at six o’clock high. Love right back at you, my friend.

  7. I’m glad you wrote about this. I can’t even write about it. That is how heavy it is to me. When I really imagine the Newtown incident going down and put myself there, I am temporarily mentally paralyzed. Get a good look at this Adam Lanza fucker. I know looks aren’t everything but he looks to be the very definition of Sub-normal.

    • Yeah a bad deal all around, Pally. No matter how you slice it. That’s why I’m trying to be nicer to all the people around me, like the cashier and parking enforcement officer. Life is scary enough, they don’t need me mad-dogging them, Mad Dog. I come in peace. I’ll walk through your metal detector and not create any hooplah. I don’t know if that’s enough, but it’s a start. For me at least.
      Blesh you, Jeffski. I crush your head bone into powder. With love. Happy joy to you and Jennifer.

  8. …also when I was 4 and 5 years old, I lived on the outskirts of Harford, Connecticut….a long time ago, and a different, more caring time. but I remember it really well, living there and being that age, and we lived about 40 miles from Newtown.

  9. I had no words and am thankful for yours. I do have completely desperate hugs for my daughter and the children in our life. Hugs to you and thankful for writing..

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