Thursday, February 15, 2018

Another One


I regret opening CNN.com even as I type the address into the browser.  I regret it as it loads.   I regret it as I read the headlines.

Trump pledges to 'ease pain' but offers few specifics

President says no one should feel in danger at school, but does not mention gun control

There are bodies still inside the school

School massacre: 17 dead after gunman targets former school

19 of the 30 deadliest mass shootings have taken place in the last decade

Another one.  

Another one.  

Another one.

I already gave up on the paper, the article describing parent after parent receiving terrified texts from their high school children. 

I return to my desk and I can’t think about anything else.  I try to work, but it's hard.  This is a national tragedy.  An epidemic.  A nightmare.   I open a dozen tabs, each article spinning and loading, waiting for me.

I will read them all.  I will watch the footage.  I will look at the photos.  I will obsess.  I will cry and I will rage and I will feel nauseated and I will look away, but then I will look back.  My heart will creak and buckle in the disbelief as I read the tweets and firsthand accounts and watch video footage, the gunshots so loud as children, terrified children, hide under their desks and hope they aren’t next.  My soul clenches in on itself as I watch an ex-FBI agent cry on national television, pleading with… all of us.  "We cannot accept this."

A part of me will wonder why I am doing this to myself. 

But I will keep looking because my reaction is human and it is right.  This IS enraging and sickening.  There is no excuse.  I will keep looking because no matter how shitty this information makes me feel, it is NOTHING compared to the feelings of the hundreds of people who had the worst day of their life yesterday.  I will keep looking because I am trying to understand something that cannot be understood.

So much of the coverage from Parkland, Florida is numbingly similar to Columbine, Virginia Tech, and numerous other shooting sites. We're all too accustomed to seeing videos of students fleeing campus; interviews with eyewitnesses; reunions with parents.

But we're not used to being transported to the crime scene through the cell phone cameras of the victims. This is new and blood-curdling.

In one video clip, we see that some students had to walk by several lifeless bodies while being evacuated from the building.

In another clip, we hear gunshots and screams, then more gunshots, more screams.

Perhaps these up-close views -- through the eyes of the victims -- will force Americans to see these shootings in a new way. Perhaps.

CNN and other television networks showed a video that a student took from the floor of his classroom, capturing the sound of the gunfire. Anchors warned viewers in advance that the content was disturbing.

"This is what kids and their teachers went through. This is how it looked, how it sounded and how it felt for them," Savannah Guthrie said on NBC's "Today" show Thursday morning. source:cnn.com

Does a part of me hope that it will somehow change people's minds when they put themselves in someone else's shoes?  This is a new brand of news.  

Screenshots of texts - a girl texting her sister - call 911, call mom and dad, send help.  Telling her that she loves her, to please tell their parents she loves them.

Teenagers live-tweeting the most terrifying day of their lives.

Snapchat videos from inside the school, gunshots louder than I could have imagined.

Video of children weeping as SWAT enters their classroom with guns.

I vacillate wildly between anger and despair, rage and complete heartbreak, and when I feel like I might vomit, I minimize the window, and then I feel lucky that I can even do that because it wasn’t my child – not this time.  And then that thought makes me want to vomit all over again.

Once again, like every time, Facebook will be full of arguments about guns and about people's RIGHTS.  I am DONE.  Fuck the NRA.  Fuck your "right to bear arms."  Fuck allowing people to own guns they never use and never need.  Fuck having guns just for fun to target shoot.  You know what is more important than you having the privilege of a hobby?  HUMAN LIVES.  I would gladly give up any one of my hobbies if it would contribute to people being safer. 

Someone named Carrie Schreck posts this status on Facebook:
Let's take a moment to honor the sacrifice of our brave schoolchildren who lay down their lives to protect our right to bear arms.
It goes viral.  It is true.  And if your first reaction is to bristle and somehow defend your guns or say that this isn't true?  You are part of the problem.

CHILDREN. ARE. DYING.  

Consistently.  

Constantly. 

Fuck your arguments that people always kill people, that there is still the black market, that people can probably 3-D print a gun.  So. Fucking. What?  That doesn't mean that restricting guns won't help.  It's not an either/or situation.  If guns aren't the problem, then how come no other countries have this problem?  How come people are dying, how come there are mass shootings every 2-3 days, how come?  

Fuck the argument that we need to start somewhere else.  Restricting guns would buy us time to deal with other issues.  Not only that, but perhaps shifting our culture's focus from "people deserve to have their guns" to "people deserve to keep their lives" could start a serious shift in paradigm.

I'm done being "civil" and "rational" and trying to have "reasonable conversations."  My question is simple.  Do you value your right to own a gun over my child's life?

How dare you?  How dare you try to convince me of your right to bear arms when there are 17 sets of parents who will never wrap their arms around their children again?  How dare you tell me that you deserve to own a gun that you use to shoot for fun when there are parents in Florida right this second whose children’s cold, lifeless bodies still lie in the halls of their high school?

Paul Ryan, how DARE you say that we need to look at the “gaps” in gun laws.  Fucking, really?

Rick Scott, how DARE you say that you are going to have conversations with state leaders about "how to make sure individuals with mental illness do not touch a gun."  Your state, the state you GOVERN, does not even require a license to purchase a semi-automatic weapon.

My mom comments on one of the many posts I share - my Facebook feed will be full with this - and she says what we should all be thinking.

There really is no moral ambiguity.  It's inexcusable that we are not protecting our children.

OUR BABIES ARE DYING.  Every week.

And that’s just the school shootings.

I’m not even thinking about the fact that in addition to the 18 school shootings that have already happened in 2018, there have also been 12 other mass shootings this year.

I could go on for 50 more sentences, 100 more paragraphs, 10,000 more words.  I could write until my fingers cramped and my body was dehydrated.  And I would be no closer to understanding, no less heartbroken.  So I will stop and try to think about something else, despite the futility.  And my mind will return to this:

WE. ARE. FAILING.  Miserably.  And until something changes, there will always be another one. 

And another one. 

And another one.

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