Friday, December 14, 2012

Mourning in America

I don't know the details of what happened.

Neither do you.

Neither do all the reporters who say that it was A and then a couple of hours later say that it was apparently not A.  But maybe B.  According to a "source with detailed knowledge."  Who may or may not actually know anything.  And may or may not accurately report what he or she does or does not know.

Here's what we know for sure.

There are tears.  Hearts are broken.  Families shattered.

There is mourning.


Nobody can really account for it.  Nothing can adequately explain it.

One or more people, for reasons we will never fully understand, never even really know, did something we can never comprehend.

People will speak of evil.

They will talk about gun control and how this proves we need more - or less - of it.

They will talk about security, as if wrapping ourselves in plastic will keep us all safe when all it will really do is suffocate us.

Here is what little we know or should know.

The technology that allows mass killing exists.  When it exists, it will be obtained and used.  If not today, then tomorrow.  If not on your street, then one block over.  Not by some snarling maniac.  Not by Hannibal Lector.  There is no Golem.  There's just the deeply troubled guy (or girl) next door.  About whom all we'll ever really know is that he (or she) was deeply troubled.  And needed far more help than we could (or did) give.

If you would be angry, let your anger be directed to our collective failure to discover and treat mental illness, at our refusal to fund clinics, to provide services.  Be angry that we don't care for each other except in superficial ways, that we offer help sparingly and grudgingly, that our prisons are overflowing with the mentally ill because we can't be bothered with treatment and locking them up is so much simpler and requires so much less thought.  And less compassion.

If you would hate, hate the fact that we are reactive, always trying desperately to prevent what happened yesterday.  And doing it badly. 

If you would mourn, mourn for the survivors, for the family and friends, the neighbors, for those who lost a loved one or a bit of the false belief that it can't happen here. 

Because it can.  And it will.  It did.

Just ask the folks in that sleepy little village a dozen miles west of Danbury.