Friday, December 14, 2012

Never Again

The woman was looking at her smartphone as I rang her up. This always annoys me.

“There was a shooting.” She said.

That’s not something that has an easy response. I think a non committal grunt was the best I could manage.

“At a school. Children.” She continued. Then she took her bag and left. I called the next person in line.

It’s not pretty, but it’s the truth that my first response on hearing the news wasn’t shock, wasn’t sorrow, just a numb base level revulsion, a feeling that can best be summed up by the thought, “This again?”

It wasn’t until I was sitting home alone that the full weight of the horror hit me. Yes, this. Again.

Here’s an anecdote, I’ve actually been working on a book which features at its center a choreographed shooting in a public place, and when I started outlining the book at the beginning of the year I was worried about this plot point because I was afraid it wouldn’t be believable.

Normally I rip through my first drafts pretty quickly. But this one has taken me a while. Not because of any difficulties with the story. Indeed I see this plot clearer than I have perhaps seen any other. But every few months it happens again and afterwards its weeks before I can stand to touch the fucking thing. First Aurora, then the tragedy at the Sikh temple, a smattering of lesser shootings throughout the year, and now this, the final (God willing) ugly culmination of this nightmare of a year.

I can hope that this last indelible tragedy might finally break the stranglehold the right has had on any talk of gun control. But I don’t hold my breath. What I save my real hope for is that the horror is at least felt. Because if we get to the point where we are so deadened that, “This again?” is our instinctive response we are truly and utterly lost once and for all.

So what do we do when we are left with horror. Well I for one went here. I try not to let my left hand know what my right hand is doing when it comes to charity. But today I don’t mind sharing. If like me you’re getting so overwhelmed by the presence of evil in the world that you are sliding towards out and out bafflement, then do some good. Do a positive concrete act. Do what you can to ease a little suffering.

It may be corny, but as long as we have that impulse we still have a fighting chance. 

EDIT: If you're looking for something else concrete to do, might I suggest going here.

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