I’ve been sitting on this one for a while. There is no unbiased position to take in the aftermath of a tragedy that redefines the word. This is one of those moments where adjectives fall short of sentiment; where rage mixes with shock and awe for a cocktail of appreciating what you still have and deep down inside you stirs the selfish thoughts that at least it didn’t happen to you. I’m not going to pretend that I feel or understand the scope of the impact of what happened last week. I can’t. I am not a father and I am just far enough away to look at the devastation as an abstract exercise in empathy. I fall short in every way to either understand this or to truly feel it. I am incapable, I suppose, but I think we all are if we’re honest with ourselves.
In the aftermath of such an event we take stock of our lives. I am sure parents are kissing and hugging their children harder than they ever have before. I am sure embraces are warmer, and love dives deeper than we ever thought it could; we never thought we could hold our breath down here.
There is the searching we all do. In events of this magnitude, seismic emotional quakes that have reached the other side of the world like the destructive flapping of the butterfly’s wings. We are all searching for three things as the dust settles and is rearranged. We ask why, how, and what can we do to never feel this way again?
Why? It’s our first question. Why would someone do this? It’s like asking a wall why it stands or why it crumbles. There is no good answer. I hate to be the one to state the obvious, but there is nothing that can be given you that will suffice. Motive may sway a jury in a trial, but there is no motive that can satisfy me. You can’t ask Gacy, Manson, or the Menedez boys and get a logical or reasonable excuse for their actions. There is no advocacy for the devil here. Nothing will fit the crime. We could be told the voices told him to do it, that it was domestic, that it was terrorism, that it was anger management issues, PTSD, or that he just hated life. I could rail off a million reasons for why, and they will never suffice. What’s done is done and there is nothing that can make it understandable.
How is where the lines in the sand come from. Guns. He killed with guns. He just walked in to the school and slaughtered our conditioned reality in a few moments of utter madness. How leads to the shock and we all love our little boxes for things. Just like why, we want to compartmentalize so we can fit this new thing in with the old things. This kind of violence, madness belongs in this box or that one. We want details. What kinds of guns? Where was the school? What time was it? How did he just walk in to the school? How could he do this? How leads to key points that ring out as the new thing to champion. It wakes us up to issues we had forgotten about since the last violence or the last event. We forget about bigotry and homophobia until someone gets tied to a fence and beaten to death. We forget about things we cherish until they are endangered. It’s just the way we are as a species. Until it is threatened, the illusion of safety lulls us in to complacency. Consider us all shocked to alertness.
Now we want to prevent it. We never thought it possible, can’t wrap our minds around the tragedy, but now that it’s happened we never want to feel this way again. Let’s stop it. What can we do? Is it gun control? Is it school security? Is it arming teachers? Is it monitoring students and classrooms more closely? Is it a little of everything? What do we do to stop this from ever happening again?
I’ve seen your memes, your tweets, and your status updates. I’ve seen your personal protests and your open prayers. I know this: There is no answer. Gun control will never eliminate guns and especially violence. We could melt down every gun on the planet and it wouldn’t stop the flow of guns if there’s a market. Let’s say we end gun ownership, then people will just sharpen sticks and take archery classes. Violence occurs with bare hands, guns are just more efficient, and in this country they aren’t going anywhere.
We can’t arm teachers. That’s all we need: a gun in a classroom at all times. That just isn’t going to end well. Do we want to turn schools in to police states patrolled by officers with guns? Metal detectors at every door, CCTV in every classroom, defense training for all staff, lockdown drills weekly, and no bathroom breaks. Campuses lined by electric doors and barbed wire? I don’t know. Seems extreme to me.
This is a tragedy I wish I’ll never be alive to see again. I don’t pretend to know what the answer is. I don’t have one, which is the only thing I am certain of. I know that one of my initial thoughts after hearing the news was, “I don’t want to live in this world anymore.” I’m not saying suicide was the answer. I’m too stubborn to give up on life, but I know that this world–a world where this happens–is not one I want to be a part of. I don’t know how to get there, to a place where this is something of an era we call the time before we did something better for the human race. We can do better than this. I don’t know what will get us there, but I hope this shock to reality, analysis, and self-searching will turn out something that can be viewed as a step forward. I don’t know, but I just can’t keep doing this. I am ashamed of what we have built. It’s broken, and we need to figure out how to fix it. Maybe there is no one answer because this wasn’t a question that happened, I was just a damned tragedy.