"We shall find peace. We shall hear angels, we shall see the sky sparkling with diamonds."- Anton Chekov.
I wonder as I wander.
I'm off for a week so get to watch a gazillion films and read a library's worth of books and listen to Christmas Carols and eat gluttonously and repent at the gym and contemplate all the eternities of dozens of memories. Meanwhile I ache at the thought of six year olds slaughtered indiscriminately.
Roger Ebert in addition to being a legendary film critic is also a sharp observer of the social and political scenes in this country. He's just a damn good writer and a very very smart man. However in blogging about the massacre in Newton he condemned the news media for their role in glorying the stories of Columbine style mass murderers (The Trenchcoat Mafia) and suggested that this leads to copycat killers. This in turn was his response to the notion that films and TV influence the perpetrators of such heinous crimes.
Let's all stop with side issues. There are two ways to address to the kind of killings that can turn movie theaters and shopping malls and elementary schools into killing fields.
The first and most important is the quick identification of and treatment for the types of mentally unstable young men who go on rampages. Sandy Hook Elementary School had just installed new security measures to protect its students. These proved worthless. We can hardly be expected to turn our schools and every other public building into stalags anyway. We cannot stop movies TV shows or video games from depicting violence lest we slip down the slippery slope of censorship. And we cannot expect the news media to ignore the stories of society's monsters. But perhaps we can learn to recognize the kinds of behaviors in our young people that may later manifest themselves in horrible ways. Certainly very few become mass killers but there are a thousand different ways in which they can hurt innocent people. Maybe we can start intercepting these people and providing them with the kind of treatment that will make them happier and more productive citizens and make the rest of us safer. I know I know I know this is akin to the idea of expending more resources on preventing young people from becoming criminals so that we can spend less on incarceration. An ounce of prevention. It is the type of thing talked about and talked about and rarely seriously addressed. Perhaps last week's tragedy can provide an impetus. We certainly owe it to the memories of those babies who were killed.
See this story: Twelve Facts About Guns and Mass Shootings in the U.S. and please note numbers 8 and 9.)
I do believe that this time people are angry enough that some sort of token gun control legislation will be passed on the national level. It's hard to be optimistic that it will be enough.
So we process as best we can the idea of an elementary school being the site of a massacre. The sorrow and the anger must not consume us. We have our own lives to manage. But neither should we let them go too quickly. It is critical to channel that outrage and hurt into meaningful action. I have noticed how people -- usually men -- will hang on to anger after their favorite team loses a game. In a situation in which they are utterly powerless they will fume and fuss and contemplate what could have and what should have been. Some of their rantings are a healthy release but after awhile that energy is utterly and completely useless. We have little power over how are team does on the field. But we do have a say in how our communities and cities and states and country conduct its affairs. Together it is possible to affect change.
At least we can start the conversations. At least we can ask questions and write letters and do research and demand action. As long as this society stands by and when tragedy strikes merely sends "thoughts and prayers" and "offers condolences" we are all accomplices. We must stop writing "there are no words." Bullshit. There are a lot of words. There are words like: "that's enough something must be done. We've got to figure out how to identify the disturbed before they kill. We've got to keep young people from so easily and quickly turning to crime. We've got figure out how to keep assault weapons out of everyone's hands and other weapons out of the hands of those who are unfit and unqualified." There are lots of similar words and it's time we started using them.
Shock is understandable. Sorrow is natural. Now onto the outrage and action. There are enough angels right now.
The golden moments in the stream of life rush past us and we see nothing but sand; the angels come to visit us, and we only know them when they are gone. ~ George Elliot