Another day, another massacre.
Yesterday our tragedy took place at Umpqua Community College (UCC) in Roseburg, Oregon. Tomorrow we can expect it at (specific location, city, state).
“Pass the remote.”
“I thought this was ‘Dancing with the Stars’ – who’s that?”
“What’s for dinner?”
And we’ll drink ourselves to sleep with quiet assurances mumbled softly so the children can’t hear:
This always happens somewhere else.
That Sort of Thing Doesn’t Happen Here
My son is worried and queried us last night concerned this could happen at his school. Parents today can add this terrible conversation to the list of terrible conversations one must have with their kids as they grow:
- Grandma doesn’t recognize you because she has Alzheimer’s and will be dead within a year
- Whoops! I ran over your puppy in the driveway
- We are getting divorced
- How to deal with a bully
- We lost your college savings in a Ponzi scheme, but cheer up: the world needs ditch diggers too!
- If you drink and drive you could die
- Birth control! Birth control! Birth control!
- Duck and cover v. run as fast as you can: how to react when a maniac shoots up your school
Mr. Patience and Understanding quickly assured my son this sort of thing won’t happen at his school and I enthusiastically chimed in my agreement.
Because that’s what parents do.
We sold Jake a beautiful and hopeful guess built upon faith in statistics that mean nothing when someone angry or disturbed (usually both) takes out their rage, anguish, and despair on innocents using a weapon that can deliver massive havoc in rapid rat-a-tat-tat fashion.
We can rest safe in the knowledge that so far, this random and excruciating terror hasn’t been foisted upon our lives. This only happens to other people.
Our children are safe.
Our loved ones are safe.
After all, do you know anyone whose candle was untimely snuffed out by gun violence?
I don’t. So everything is ok. Whew!
There are millions of Americans living in neighborhoods in which this type of violence is perpetrated on a smaller scale per incident but much larger in total numbers of shootings. Unfortunately we don’t even talk about that much anymore, now that we have the distraction of over 294 mass shootings so far in 2015.
That’s more than one mass shooting per day this year.
Nothing to see here, folks.
Buy a new television and video game and cheeseburger and be on your merry way. This won’t happen to you.
Here We Go Again
- Mass shooting (four or more people killed or injured by gunfire)
- Collective shock
- Fighting on social media (minds changed on either side: zero)
- President speaks on gun violence
- Republicans accuse Obama of being a jack-booted thug who is coming for all the guns owned by all law-abiding Americans
- Political paralysis – nothing happens on the mental health or gun control scene to stop this insanity
- Writers write about the above cycle
- Republicans fight to regulate my vagina and associated bits and Democrats are consumed with fighting them while meanwhile the country burns
- Mass shooting
Social media, a relatively new development in our species, gives us a space to piss and moan and accomplish nothing.
As I perused Facebook last night, I saw several claims from people who were sure that President Obama orchestrated not only the Oregon shooting, but Sandy Hook and many others so he could generate enough outrage to pass comprehensive gun control legislation.
Some people are downright dangerously fucking stupid.
I also saw this post from a man who was on the UCC campus yesterday:
Mr. President. I was on campus today at 10:38 a.m.. I was in lockdown for the better part of three hours. The victims of this shooting—they’re my friends, my peers, and my teachers. This is my home. None of us want to hear about how this is a result of a failure on the part of the American people to pass gun control laws. All we want is for you to send us your prayers and to tell us that you’re standing strong with us. Support us. Please. We need it.
With all due respect, and I very much sympathize with what this man went through, no one person speaks for everyone on that campus.
No one person has the right to demand only prayers instead of urging Congress to pass meaningful gun and mental health care access legislation.
This tragedy, while centered geographically at that campus, is an American tragedy that sadly belongs to all of us and urges a response beyond sending positive thoughts westward and making plaintive urgings to a god in the sky who seems to not like us very much.
Regrettably, our nation has become perfectly comfortable with the current paradigm: the blood of our children, brothers and sisters, parents, and friends running into the streets like so much Oregon rainwater.
Nothing to see here, folks.
Watch your football.
Take your selfies with your smartphone.
Drink your wine.
Everything is going to be a-ok.
“Didn’t Anybody Tell You that You’re Wonderful?”
Tasha Miller, ©2013
Didn’t anybody tell you that you’re wonderful?
Did that someone look straight into your eyes?
Have you never understood that you are beautiful?
Or that your one and only limit is the sky?
Do you remember a time when you could feel
a universe of love under your feet?
Were they planted on the ground without waiver?
Or was your sense of self not in your reach?
In your darkest hour, would you listen to me sing?
I would tell you that you’re worth…
Worth ten times what he could bring.
I would teach you what is full…And how to feel wonderful.
Well you’d have a sense of self if only I could have my way.
What happened? How’d you get here?
Someone carried you in sleep?
But now that someone’s gone and you appear to be in deep.
Well come to me. I’ll teach you how to find your way.
‘cuz that’s what you must do. You must go along your way.
I don’t care how old you are! You will learn to stand up tall!
You will learn to see your beauty. You will go so very far.
But remember your own worth and how strong your two feet are.
I stopped. I held your face. I said ‘you are wonderful.’
I have looked right straight into those green eyes.
Do you believe when I say that you are beautiful?
And that your one and only limit is the sky?
I think that your one and only limit is your sky.
Beautiful Portland songstress Tasha Miller wrote this song and will be performing it along with other music next Wednesday from 6:30 –
9:30 p.m. at Jo Bar (715 NW 23rd, Portland, 97210).