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Something like madness

February 15, 2018 Leave a comment

You just get numb to it after a while.

The news filtered through the work-day haze, as it usually does. A co-worker sent me an instant message.

“Another school shooting. In Florida.”

I don’t think I even blinked. It just seemed so….routine. Being alerted of a school shooting is like being alerted that a winter storm is on the way. It’s the way we do business nowadays. It’s shameful, but that doesn’t make it not so.

The news dripped out. People were wounded. Shooter was still at large. Then….fatalities. Four. Six. A dozen. And the final butcher’s bill…

Seventeen.

180221-florida-shooting-tease_qodg0mThe only oddity here, it seemed, was that the shooter didn’t save a bullet for himself (it was, of course, a male….). He was arrested. We’ll see a lot more of him in the coming months surely. The new poster boy for weird, angry, white alienation, with easy access to an AR-15 and gobs of ammo. That last bit nearly goes without saying these days.

There’s an unworldliness about these things now….like it’s happening in an alternate universe. The 24 hour news cycle, along with social media, keep us all filled to the brim, yet somehow staggeringly disengaged at the same time. Florida suddenly seemed a million miles away. I went through the rest of my day, the equivalent, I suppose, of a temporary moral shrug.

But then….you get snapped back. You see your own child.

There was a photo that grabbed me. You’ve seen it over and over again by now. Only the location changes. Yet another frantic mother, squeezing her child. Her face was etched with millions of years of evolution….a mother protecting her own. But the day…..it was Valentine’s Day….but also Ash Wednesday too. I’d forgotten the latter. On the woman’s forehead was a large, black smudge. A cross.

How many thoughts and prayers have been offered up to the heavens over the last few decades after mass shootings? Probably 1000 just counting Congress alone. …..and that’s no exaggeration. We wear out our knees in prayer, bleating like sheep towards the sky while dodging the cross-fire hurricane. And somehow, these “thoughts and prayers” (what differentiates the two, I wonder?) disappear into the ether, f not entirely ignored, then surely unanswered. Because asking the clouds for help in protecting your child when he or she goes to school is a tricky business.

You’d have better luck with Congress and the President. They can turn “God, please don’t let some pissed off white kid shoot my 7 year old” into, “no son, you can’t have that gun because it’s against the law. Off you go…you little shithead…”

I mean, that’s their job. To keep the country safe. They’ve done some crazy things in order to do so in the past too. So..

Take off your shoes before you board that plane. Get rid of your mini-bar sized bottles of shampoo and mouthwash….and hope your name isn’t the same as some other dude who happens to be on some dark “no not fly” list. And that little sippy cup your baby is holding? Yea, we’re gonna need that bubba….

But, alas, we gritted our teeth and got used to it. It might be idiotic and a tad…er…theatrical, but we can talk ourselves into the fact that the powers that be, not always the brightest bulbs in the room, probably mean well. Nobody wants another 9/11

Just as nobody wants another school shooting. Right?

Anyone? Anyone? Bueller?

We all know how this story ends. Lather. Rinse. Repeat.

Republican lawmakers are tripping each other to be the first to offer the aforementioned “thoughts and prayers”, while the President took to Twitter, not to talk about the ridiculous ease in which a mental defective can procure a AR-15, but to scold the dead kids for not being vigilant enough in informing law enforcement of the killer’s obvious weirdness. Trump later addressed the nation as our designated healer and chief and somehow never once managed to use to word “gun”. He pledged to “ease pain” but, much like how he was gonna pay for his wall, was a bit short on specifics. As in, he didn’t offer any at all.

Meanwhile, before the bodies were fully removed from the school (bodies survivors were forced to step over in order to get out of the building), Speaker of the House Paul Ryan went on right-wing talk radio and pledged to protect, not children, but guns. Kids don’t give Paul Ryan millions in campaign contributions, after all. So I guess it’s not personal. It’s strictly business.

And the rest of us….most just kinda sit here, painfully aware of the moral cowardice of our leaders, but for whatever reason lacking the will to get off our collective asses on election day to toss them over the side. And a very vocal minority just shrugs and says, “dead kids are the price of freedom I guess”. Until, of course, it’s their kid….and that red white and blue turns all sorts of grey.

But that’s not today.

Today it’s once again somebody else’s kid.

And thus we descend even further into apathy. And, to the rest of the world, something like madness.

In a bit..

–tf

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