Friday, December 14, 2012
There have been times when I've felt like I'm at a loss for words. When I've sat here staring at this computer screen practically in tears, maybe even overcome with rage, because I simply can't find a way to translate the chaos and emotion in my head into actual human language. It's happened before -- but it's never happened like this.
I just keep thinking about my four-year-old daughter, Inara. I can't get her out of my head. Her blonde curls. Her smile. The way she opens her bedroom door and shuffles hesitantly over in her little Hello Kitty pajamas to where I'm working early in the morning -- her purple blanket clutched in both hands and pulled up to her face, her eyes still glossy with receding sleep -- and silently rests her head against me. The sound of her laughing uncontrollably whenever she tells a joke, no matter how often she's told the same joke before. She's like life itself to me. She's my heart and soul. My sine qua non.
I think about that, all of that, and then I try to reconcile those overwhelming feelings with the words and images that have played out all day on my TV. Parents screaming. Tiny children marching in a line to safety as they're led by police armed with automatic weapons. Ambulances lining the streets and police tape strewn throughout a bucolic suburban neighborhood in New England. "27 People Killed in Elementary School Massacre." It goes beyond surreal into the realm of unimaginable. How can our feeble minds even be expected to process it, our frail psyches to make sense of it? How can we ever come to terms with the notion that this is us -- that our society is capable of playing host to something so utterly inhuman? Who are we at this point?
Less than 48-hours after the attacks of 9/11, I was at Ground Zero, standing with a mask over my face next to a still-burning pile of wreckage ten stories high. It was one of the most horrific experiences imaginable. And yet even then, overcome by the sheer magnitude of what had happened and the searing pain it caused, I could at least see some kind of twisted reasoning at work. While the beliefs of those who had attacked us and killed so many may have been insane and misguided, they were at least easy to explain; the men who brought terror to our shores honestly considered themselves warriors, and we were their enemy. We weren't completely helpless then; we knew who had devastated us, why, and what we had to do about it.
But this: an elementary school, a 20-year-old man armed to the teeth, 20 children shot to death while they cowered in class. No matter how hard I try I just can't understand it. Dear God, why? They were just kids. And teachers. Why?
How do we go on from this? How do so many families return home to presents still under the Christmas tree for children who will now never open them -- how do they survive the unsurvivable? How do we as a nation dare to continue calling ourselves human when we tolerate such virulent madness, allowing our leaders to refuse to acknowledge that something has to be done about our obscene and grievously negligent lust for firepower and the right to supposedly wield it as we please? When does it fucking stop?
Now. It stops now. Because it has to.
Enough is enough.
There are admittedly no easy answers, but there have to be answers, because we can't have another one of these. Not like this. This is too much for us to take.