“Actions are the first tragedy in life, words are the second. Words are perhaps the worst. Words are merciless. . .” Oscar Wilde.
Tomorrow I have to sit down with my 6 year old and have a conversation about what happened at Sandy Hook Elementary school on Friday. I have to find a way to explain an unexplainable situation in a way that will give him the tools to push aside what other children may speak of on Monday. My first instinct was to assume he would remain naively ignorant of what happened… Then I thought about what that means in a classroom full of Other People’s Children.
No, what he hears first needs to come from home. But before I can sit down and do my very best impression of Mr. Rogers, I need to unload the most pressing of my bitter little pills.
First off, let me offer the same platitudes, to express my horror at what I assume it must feel like for the people most directly affected by the nonsensical event. For no matter how much my mother’s heart weeps for those stranger’s children, no matter how full my eyes became as I watched my innocent child run to me after school I cannot know.
And, oh, how absurdly grateful I am not to know. But I grieve with these people, these parents.
I understand– and own– my grieving process. First, I place myself into the shoes of the unknown stranger, mentally acting out my worst what-if scenarios. Then, because it’s hard to sustain that level of grief when it’s not IN YOUR FACE, I seek the news, and visually feed my horror on 24-hour loop.
9/11, oh the lessons you taught me about myself.
Then I get angry at everyone; feeling frustrated at how, even while the community of Newtown hug, the community of America begins to bicker.
GUN CONTROL! ARM THE TEACHERS! INCREASE SCHOOL SECURITY– BULLET PROOF WALLS! MORE COPS! MORE GOD! LESS GOD! BAN VIDEO GAMES!
What needs to happen to protect our children? That list is long and dirty– and not all of it surrounds school security and gun control. What this latest event proves to me– we are a country on the precipice of falling victim to our own seething contempt and virulent anger.
Bitter #1: Reporting Rumor as Fact, aka– Being a Fucktard
We all know what happened… oh wait, we don’t.
What we know, for fact, is that a total of 28 people (included the shooter and his mother) are dead; 20 children and 6 adults.
We know that a barely-man entered an elementary school and shot these people.
The rest of the facts?
Pay close attention to the words– may, perhaps, seemed like– because they are everywhere.
The shooter may have had a personality disorder;
the shooter may have been autistic;
the shooter seemed like a loner.
The family seemed nice; the mother was a good housekeeper, an involved parent.
Assumptions, not facts, and as such should never be originating with any sort of journalistic agency.
Yes, I want information– factual information.
The swiftness with which social media spreads rumors and e-publishing prints them? Damn.
Bitter Pill #2: Stereotyping Fear Words go BUZZ
The shooter was quiet, thin, pale; he was one of those goth-types.
As a unit, all of America gives a sympathetic nod since obviously all psychotic breaks begin with the quiet, thin, pale, goth kids.
Ah– the human need to systematically categorize people into neat boxes, ensuring that the stereotype can be quickly retrieved from its mental file folder.
Now I should be stuck between the fear of shy, thin, pale nerdy kids, and the fear of the black, hooded sweatshirt teenagers.
My point being that mental illness cannot be determined by a clothing size, or skin color.
Not all stereotypes are representative, as proven by such handsome, tan personable men like Ted Bundy.
Bitter Pill #3: Slaughters to be Blamed on the Separation of Church and State
Mike Huckabee shakes his head sadly and tells all of us that we should just sort of get used to being shot and killed thanks to the removal of public prayer. Why would God save these innocent children when we’ve stopped prayer in schools.
Too much bitter, not enough energy. In short, would someone please explain the disconnect between the logic of “guns don’t kill people” and “non-theism kills us all”. Why do guns and god get a blame-free ride for they situations with which they are involved?
Huckabee, you are a douche-bag.
Bitter #4: GUN CONTROL! YOU CAN’T TAKE MY GUNS
If this could ever be a thoughtful, intelligent conversation among adults…
It’s ironic to me how these conversations keep getting pushed to the side because so many people are…what? Maybe afraid of pissing off people with guns?
But just a teeny-tiny bit of tact when discussing gun ownership rights when standing over the body-bags filled with dead children. For fuck’s sake, people.
Oh– and let’s just skip arming teachers, and give them to the 5 year olds at kindergarten registration.
Bitter Pill #4: Suffering from Mental Illness versus Evil is Among Us!
JB and I disagree on the standard for which we judge the state of being evil. I believe that all who massacre have a mental illness, but not all with mental illness will massacre.
JB thinks that people can be evil without being mentally ill.
Struggling with the idea that someone can be evil enough to mow down a classroom of kindergartners without being delusional in some way…too much for me to handle.
Note the use of the word suffer, mental illness in any capacity– not fun.
I just can’t imagine what happens in the life and mind of a 20 year old that ends with the answer of guns in an elementary school.
Wait– I can imagine the types of horrors that may occur in the life of a child– any one of which might preclude a psychotic break. Across the world children, even those in affluent neighborhoods, suffer unspeakable atrocities. Child abuse– whether physical, sexual, or emotional– knows no socioeconomic or racial barrier. And child abuse among children with developmental delays occurs at a rate almost twice (1.68) of non-delayed child. So whether this barely-man was developmentally delayed, abused, mentally ill– who knows? The most recent friend the media could find to interview had not spoken with Lanza since middle school.
We all ignore, thus condone, that reactive violence when funding for social welfare and mental health programs disappear. Cutting those funded programs in favor of providing guns for war tells each one of our children that bullets are the universal solution to all problems.
After all, children mimic what they see over what they are told.
I don’t know what, if anything, traumatic occurred in Adam Lanza’s life.
I feel part of the blame for our country’s failing systems– a place where children are killed by a barely-man.