The Shooting in Connecticut

12-15-12

 

People die all the time. It’s natural.

Murder, despite how horrifying it is, is something that most of us accept as a reality. Around the world people are shot or blown up or bombed daily—and that doesn’t bother us because it’s far away and because it’s not on our televisions. It’s easy to look the other way when it’s in the Middle East or in Africa and there aren’t American troops involved.

We can deal with that.

But today was different.  It’s always different when a group of children are killed in an elementary school in broad daylight. A deranged man, who had just killed his own mother, a school teacher,  in her Connecticut home, walked in to her school, wielding a multitude of firearms—and then he shot and killed twenty children and eight adults.

It’s difficult to comprehend the horror of that.

Imagine sitting in your class, you’re eight or nine years old.  Its just another day at school, you’re wondering what’s for lunch that day, and you keep looking over at Cindy, the girl you have a crush on, hoping she will notice you.

You’re taking a pop quiz, struggling to remember all of the multiplication tables—you work at it, you’re pencil breaks, you sharpen it and then– all of a sudden a strange man comes in with a gun starts shooting a gun at you and at your friends and at Cindy.  People scream and the teacher is shot and killed.

Can you imagine how that would feel?

Imagine you are a teacher in the classroom next door, and you hear gun shots coming through the walls—suddenly responsible for the lives of your students, you have to keep them calm and keep them alive, putting yourself at an enormous risk to do so.

The panic they must’ve felt, the wild, frantic fear that an animal has when its cornered—that base instinct—survival—ever present but likely never felt with such a kinetic fury. But the teachers try to keep it together for the kids–because they know how important they are—and how perfectly innocent most of them still are.

Childhood innocence is like the first snowfall of the year before it has been touched—sparkling and glistening along a perfectly smooth plane of snowy wonder.  A tapestry of possibilities, you can build snow men, have a snow ball fight, make a fort, go sledding–who knows what the future holds for this snow. But eventually something taints the perfection, footprints or a snow plow or a dog relieving itself. It never lasts, but usually it takes some time for it to melt. Today that snow didn’t just melt for the kids in CT–it evaporated.

For them to see carnage of this nature will change them, break them down. They will never be the same and it’s not their fault.

Twenty children… They were going to  learn and grow and fight and have crushes and go the prom and play in the summer together and eventually graduate. Then they might’ve become doctors or store managers or more importantly fathers, mothers, husbands, wives… They had so much time left—and it was taken away from them. And that’s unfair, appalling and infuriating.

What kind of a person could do something like that?

Clearly, not one that can fully comprehend the harm they are causing. Only someone who has come undone has the ability to do something like that.

A lot of the fallout from the shooting that I’ve seen has been related to gun control which is the obvious reaction considering all the shootings that we’ve had in the US of late.

But I wonder—is that really the only cause of this? It seems naïve to think that people wouldn’t find ways to carry firearms if they were criminalized. People certainly have no trouble finding illegal drugs. Guns are the same.

I have a friend. She is from Bulgaria, but studies at the same college as me here in the US. We were texting about the shooting earlier and she said simply: “America.” As if to say, what do you expect?

At first, I felt a sting of national pride which urged me to fighter her on that, I thought that’s not true, it happens in other places too. We’re not to blame.

But maybe she’s right.

I remember the shooting in Norway a few years ago, but that was the only one I could think of.

There have been four shootings of this nature in America in the last year: Today. Portland last week. Wisconsin earlier this year, and Colorado before that.

These are innocent people killed without provocation in public places by killers with very little to no motive. They are almost always described as “quiet types” or “loners” or “Goths”, many of them are said to have personality or mental disorders of some kind—and they tend to commit suicide after the shootings.

If only we could understand these people and what is happening in their life that could lead them to do these horrible things…

Is it a cry for help? A “Fuck You” to society for ignoring them for so long?  Or is it simply a psychotic rampage?

Regardless, it’s not just about gun control; it’s about mental health. This was a deranged man who, if he had been helped, might not have shot those children and ripped the innocence away from their classmates. His mind was unwell. He needed help and he clearly was not afforded it.

Something must be done.  Enough of this.

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