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?
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.