Friday, December 14, 2012

Elegia



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.

7 comments:

Anonymous said...

"Why" does it happen, you ask? Because there are people with severe mental problems. Of course you and I and everybody else with a heart are shocked over this, but "why" is not the question. As longs as there are people with mental problems and access to guns (and I'm NOT advocating gun control here), as long as there are schools, work environments and other places that create "obligations" in anyone's mind, this will continue to happen. It doesn't stop just because we say so. The real question should be "how to stop this from ever happening again". The answers are, quite literally, dozens, alone or in combination, and are hard to implement, and many are political in their nature, and many demand a lot of money -- worse, many demand lots of education, healthcare and specific preventive measures. And all that without harming our individual liberties. "How to stop", that's the question we should be asking. It will take a long time before we can definitely answer that. And, make no mistake, this will probably happen again and shock us again altogether, while we ask the question.

Marc McKenzie said...

When watching the news about this shooting, all I could think was, "How could this happen, and why?"

And sadly, the only answer I could find was...none, really. Just "I don't know." I don't know what could drive a person to do this. I don't know why this motherf**ker had a gun and why he felt the need to shoot over twenty children, for the love of God. Or why he shot his own mother.

I honestly do not know how the hell we can deal with this. Why? Because we're going to talk past each other, blame everything from video games to drone strikes to...well, something. And I don't know what can really be done to stop events like this from happening again. For every time we've tried gun control of some sort, one side screams that it's too much, and one side screams it's too little.

I don't have kids, Chez, but I have a niece who I adore to no end. And at the back of my mind I have this fear that something like this could happen at her school. I have an older brother who works in law enforcement and I worry about some two-bit punk getting the edge on him and blowing his brains out.

I'm at a loss. I really do not know what the hell we can do. Maybe someone has the right idea. But if this event doesn't get us to talk seriously about what to do, then I'm afraid nothing will.

Mary said...

As a mom, the events in Newton have left me grasping for answers, heartbroken and crying a thousand tears.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=PFYm9LKsuUo#!

Mary said...

I am not sure why the embedded video did not load, I'll try again.

http://youtu.be/PFYm9LKsuUo

Chez said...

Doesn't matter. It's easy to just copy the link. It's a beautiful song -- the perfect song really.

Claude Weaver said...

As longs as there are people with mental problems and access to guns (and I'm NOT advocating gun control here),

No. NO. Fuck THAT. You can't do that. You can't complain about people with mental problems having access to guns, and then immediately turn around and say you don't advocate gun control.

Fuck that noise. Either you do (and want to keep these weapons out of the hands of madmen) or you don't. You can't dance on the line. And that mentality is why any hope for stopping this sort of thing from happening is always going to be a failure.

You want to know the ultimate irony in all this: years after some wannabe terrorists FAILED in their plots, we still have to take off our shoes, throw away any liquids bigger than a juice box, and practically get strip-searched every time we board a plane. But when a homegrown asshole decides to inflict pain, terror, and panic on us, we as a country can't bear to consider even BASIC restrictions of our guns.

So we are safe and protected, as long as the murderers aren't American. Whoopee.

Anonymous said...

What I said above relies a lot on the verbal tense I consciously used. I didn't say "I do" or "I don't", I said "I'm not advocating gun control here". I understand your frustration and even condone it, but my definitive opinion on the subject is not made clear in the comment and the way I phrased it, mostly because I don't have a clear opinion on this matter. The same way I understand and accept what you're saying (let's say, 60%), I see the other side too (40%), and am still not sure what to think. I hope you can grant me the right of still being on the fence not because of lack of information, Claude, but maybe because of too much of it. And it's not a terrible, horrific, abominable incident that will turn my head for good. Moments like these are never the best chance to make up your mind for good.