Dec 14, 2012

Mad World

I just can't get my mind into a proper headspace to write fiction today. The non-fiction in the world seems hell bent on spearing itself through my waking thoughts, and it's simply too much noise for me to reach a calm balance and steer through to create. President Obama just talked publicly about the shooting in a Connecticut elementary school; the flags are being lowered to half mast. A lot of people have taken to having a moment of silence for the lives impacted by this event, which is a good idea. It's the bit where we all start talking again afterwards that has me curious.

Two mass public shootings in the past few days, this one at an elementary school. I'm.... I don't quite know what to say about this. It's a terrible thing, not only in the immediate tragedy of the moment and with respect to the lives that were lost, but also at watching the chaos that ensues among those of us forced to stand in observation of it, and being left to wonder not just what was it that led to this horror but in trying to discover a plan to prevent it from happening again.

I have a child who's in elementary school. This whole thing just flares into my mind in a truly real "what if" capacity, and it's a struggle to keep my emotions from blinding me to pure and undiluted rage.

The conversation at present, unfortunately is devolving into the same one that always happens after these events. The fact that it's happening so often now makes me worried that at some point CNN or Fox or whoever will just end up having a daily "Today's Massacres" update. It doesn't feel like we're far off from that now.

Many people are drawing this whole event into a chance to discuss gun control laws, or, on the other side, a chance to point out that a person did this, not a gun. As with most public debates, I find that both sides are right. A person walked into an elementary school and shot some two dozen people.... WITH A GUN.

I'm forecasting that they'll find the shooter to have had no previous criminal record, making this act his only actual crime, other than perhaps having the guns in the first place. Gun control opposition will use this to reinforce their stand that gun control laws only ensure that nobody has a gun except for the criminals. Although the opposite is also true - having no gun control laws just mean that anyone can have a gun, even those people who haven't committed any crimes YET.

Gun Control laws or not.... this won't change a thing. Take all guns away - if such a thing were even possible - and you'll see people walking into schools with a baseball bat or a bow and arrows, or maybe just driving down the halls at full speed in their honda prelude. The weapon is the facilitation of the crime - so there's something to be said for taking away or controlling those weapons that allow a person to take even more human lives so easily. For that matter, I wouldn't mind there being better driving laws, too, and do what they can to keep reckless drivers off the road. But regardless, this doesn't fix the actual problem.

The problem is that for whatever reason, there are people who think it perfectly allowable to walk up and kill people. Oh, I know, some people think homosexuality is the big evil - or drug use, or Dungeons and Dragons, or heavy metal or rap. But the real truth - the thing we're not looking at - is that we are forgetting about the value of a human life. I'm not making an arguement for or against abortion, here, either. What I mean is that a life should matter. Your life matters. Other people's lives matter. Life. Matters.

A thought crossed my mind earlier, almost flippantly, about how all these people who shoot at dozens of random strangers then turn the gun on themselves, tidily wrapping up the entire event into the title of "murder/suicide", and why these people should stop being so cowardly and START with the suicides. I mean, lower headcount, and in the end, as far as they know, they got the same basic result, right?

But the deeper I thought about that, the more I realized that even the shooter's life matters. They may not agree - - they clearly disagree to such an extent that they want to go out with a series of big bangs - but what if they had made a different choice? What if, instead of killing all those people, they had written them all anonymous Christmas cards? What if they had made it to the news by walking into the school, randomly hugging all the school administrators, left a box of oreos on the table and then gone home to play "Simpsons: Tapped Out" on their iPads?

Dude, I never knew who you were, but...well, going by the odds, there are some dozen people right now in this country who are considering doing what you did today. We don't know who they are, we don't know why they're doing it. We can't imagine their resolve, and may not even remotely imagine them capable of doing something so horrible. To a certain extent, maybe you can't either.

But here's the thing: we would infinitely prefer that you didn't. You have a chance to make an impact for good, regardless of what you might think. Killing other people, killing yourself... those aren't your only options. Especially taking someone else's life. It's not yours, you don't have that right to it, you just don't.

Death is not the only option. And, among all the options out there, it's rarely very high off the bottom of the list. Certainly, it's never the best option.

Please, from one human being to another, I'm begging you. Put the gun away. Step away from this sense of pre-destined entropy and remember that these lives are not yours to take. You can't have them. And if all your thoughts revolve around dreams and fantasies of murder and violence, please get help. It's okay to get help, you know? You don't have to deal with this.

In fact, none of us have to. Regardless of our differences, we're one big group of people, one giant community, one breathing and living organism of the human condition.

Let's be better than this, everyone. Let's move forward. Let's go.

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