Though a requirement for my Master's Degree, statistics have never been a strong suit for me. I remember when first learning basic stats in high school there was mention about considering the stats rather than sample stories or examples because while the stories are compelling, they often do not show the bigger picture. I know this to be true, and yet when I see statistics showing that gun violence is down since the 70s and 80s, that supposedly gun assaults and the US obsession with guns and other destructive weapons is on the decline, I am not put at ease. I respond to the sample. I see the killing, the killing, the senseless killing and have a hard time taking comfort in the decreasing numbers. Though I do accept the mathematical equations showing decline, I wonder if there is not more to review here. I am concerned about the causes of the new type of killer. I remember our fears in the 70s and 80s because I was a child during that time. We were afraid of gangs, the thriving, illegal, and suspect trade in crack cocaine, a drug that seemed to take over inner city neighborhoods in a season and then spread throughout the United States. During that bloody terror, a war on drugs was declared and it was fought out in the streets. This is not what we are experiencing here and the stats don't say anything of it.
I am frozen, but not numbed, boiling inside, acid rotting my gut, my heart bleeding out of my chest. The phrase "the slaughter of the innocents" has been much used in the murder of those 28 people in Newtown, CT and it is so appropriate. My oldest daughter is the same age as many of the victims of this crime and my anxiety was not well served by this news. I envisioned her walking through the hallway, dragging her hand along the wall as she daydreamed and walked to or from the bathroom, thrilled at the little bit of freedom she'd found in the middle of her day. I have seen so many of her peers do exactly that on days that I have visited her school. They look with wonder and trust and awe at nearly everything in the world. This is the age where kids are not quite jaded or "bored" by much of anything. Where their curiosity is peaked by almost everything. They pay attention because they are studying, learning, analyzing and don't pay attention for just the same reason. The thought of all those little, peering eyes trying to compute what was unfolding before them makes me faint. I mourn the massacre of these innocents and the loss of innocence of the poor, wide-eyed children who witnessed the murder of their classmates and teachers and professionals.
I cannot stand the argument that "we" care only when the tragedy, the massacre, the deaths of children and innocents hit close to home. How can anyone know that? How can they claim that? Yes, it is true that the media chooses what to cover, works its angles to keep us all interested in their particular network. I would support the idea that the networks and cable news channels make assumptions about what the viewing population wants, finds sensational or exciting, but I don't believe that there is a collective "we" that doesn't care about murder, massacres, and human suffering wherever it happens. I believe there is a greater "we" that does. Death, destruction, war whether in reality or in television, film, gaming doesn't appeal to us because we fear the darkness it dredges. We hope, pray, occupy in the hopes that the world can rid itself of its blood lust. Let's not insinuate that we only care about our homies as reason not to discuss what is wrong. And indeed, something is wrong.
Some of us may take our temperatures and find that we don't feel well, but others are burning up with fever, sick. We are the kind of sick that we don't even want to talk about in our homes so we surely do not want to discuss in relation to the culture of our great nation. The debate about how great, how marvelous, how special the United States of America is in so many ways is not in question. What I am talking about it the overachieving, over-reaching, striving, proud, miraculous image of strength that goes home and sees something entirely different in the mirror. Emotional and spiritual wounds left unchecked for lifetimes. Heavily medicated but not brought to light. We spend so much time on our projections that we have lost how we truly feel inside. We don't even talk about how we feel and if somehow you are someone who does talk about it or want to, you are considered the one who is fucked up. There is no dialogue here, no discussion, no honesty, no admittance of our fear, our frustration, our concern for ourselves and for others, even on the small scale, so how can we begin the conversation about healing the American spirit, the American soul.
It is hard to argue that culturally and collectively, we like guns, cars, wide open spaces, our individuality, and what we consider our freedom, the right to do whatever we want, however we want, beholden to no one. We are proud and we have reason to be. It is no surprise that to much of the world, we are considered cowboys. Ye,s there is the love of the wide open space, the hard work, the commitment, the dedication but there is also that stubborn, risk-taking, man-on-my-own, my-way-or-the-highway attitude that gets in our way. It is hard to address our fears and our shortcomings when our pride refuses to allow us to even admit them.
The state of our mental health is terrifying. If we suffered physical wounds as traumatic as some of the wounds we are carrying, we'd stop immediately to salve them, heal them, warn others how we hurt ourselves in order to prevent the same from happening to them. But when we are hurt or damaged or in psychic pain, we don't want to talk about it. No one around us wants to talk about it either. We want to take something and hope that whatever it is we've just put in our mouths will make that hurt go away. That's not working. In the mass murders in Newtown, CT at the Sandy Hook Elementary school where a clearly wounded boy from a family that looks like many that I grew up around took from us all, but specifically from the trusting parents and families and friends who felt that they had the right to send their children to school to learn, the most precious, the most sacred gems of our community. The babies.
Targeting children, aiming at the very physical symbol of our hope, our dreams, our joy, he ripped out our souls and showed us how we are all truly strung together. Our souls pulled out like a string of paper dolls from a cut out. In our children, some of us have found the only place for true, pure love. We have given to them all in our hearts. They have mapped on our souls. We delight in their innocence, their openness, their trusting nature, the purity of their minds, hearts, and spirits. When children are hurt, even accidentally, we are distraught. When they are aimed at, when they are the target, we know we are dealing with a sick individual or a sick community or a sick state, country, world. We fail them and ultimately ourselves, if we cannot admit this. If we cannot find a way to make this different. If we will not try to heal ourselves.
Statistically, things are improving they say. In the random sampling, young children, babies, and the people trained and hired to guide them, lead them, teach them, are dead. And to me, no matter the numbers, we are more than the numbers. We are human beings. We are our brothers' keepers and we must do better than this.
(c) Copyright 2012. Repatriated Mama: Back to the Suburban Grind.
Life is what you make it.
More from entertainment