I cannot sleep.
I am thinking about the shooting in Connecticut.
We are living in a way that is not sustainable. We are living in the sickness of violence, this incident a burst of that violence from a infection of poison simmering through our culture all the time. Guns? No need for them. Not if we were living in mutuality, compassion, and consensuality for real. I am so so sad for the children and families and well, all of us. Something is not right, more accurately something is very very wrong.
And I don’t think this has to do with needing more or less religion in schools (as Mike Huckabee so callously declared immediately after the shooting), or more or less rules about who we marry, date, have sex with, befriend, or how we manage our bodies and reproductive rights. And I’m not even sure this has anything at all to do with video games, but it does have something to do with how we are about consumption, numbing ourselves with entertainments and “happiness” instead of satisfactions and still, I think something else is going on. And I have no idea what that even is.
I don’t know, though. I just don’t know.
Or maybe I do. Maybe we all do. We know something is wrong, but we don’t know how to fix it, or have the will, or perhaps are so collectively trapped in how with think America should be that we can’t see how it is.
Like so many of us, I saw scores of posts on my FB feed from writers digging into the tragedy. Many on gun facts and the outstanding number of crimes and deaths through gun use are stunning, if only in sheer numbers, I mean over 45K deaths? How many guns do we need? But this article struck me as the most accurate, at least in terms of what I’m getting at. In terms of what’s going wrong.
It’s from the NY Times and it’s by a man, Gregory Gibson, who lost a child to a school shooting in 1992. He wrote about it, fought against the gun culture and likened what was happening to a public health threat. I’m not sure things have changed much, considering it never seems “to be the time to talk about gun control.”
This is the section that hit me in the gut as truth.
“In the wake of Galen’s murder, I wrote a book about the shooting. In it I suggested that we view gun crime as a public health issue, much the same as smoking or pesticides. I spent a number of years attending rallies, signing petitions, writing letters and making speeches, but eventually I gave up. Gun control, such a live issue in the “early” days of school shootings, inexplicably became a third-rail issue for politicians.
I came to realize that, in essence, this is the way we in America want things to be. We want our freedom, and we want our firearms, and if we have to endure the occasional school shooting, so be it. A terrible shame, but hey — didn’t some guy in China just do the same thing with a knife?”
Not everyone is so disconnected individually, but are we as a culture, on a meta level, in that dynamic? Don’t want a little polar ice cap melting to get in the way of our use of oil? Don’t want a little animal (and human) cruelty to get in the way of our cheap burgers and bacon? Can’t let loss of privilege and discomfort get in the way of casual racism and sexism and intersectional oppression, besides we’re post-racial right? Don’t want a little ethical failures to get in the way of our stockholders having enough money. Don’t even think to protect the victims, just interview them immediately, vampirically for the best
entertainment news scoop. God forbid we really create mental health, for real. Don’t want to have to share. Not really. Don’t want to have to change. Bootstraps! Individualism!
And again, I don’t think this feels true for individuals (because I and so many others are doing work to push against all those things listed above), but all of us make up the system where perhaps we are, as a group, numbed just enough to the horros to not really overthrow the system and start over, these bursts of violence over the simmering poison, like the pain from lancing a boil, wake us up for just a moment. We rage, we demand, we seek an answer, and then we are distracted by 24/7 newscasts, another scandal, another reality TV show. We go back to sleep back into a fever dream, with the infection from the boil still not healed, just released for a time, with fear deep in our heart, fear that something is wrong, deeply wrong. Something is wrong.
Whatever it is, it is indeed a public health crisis and we are all, to some extent, infected. We do not feel safe. We are so deeply afraid. And how ever we are trying to make ourselves feel safe-pharmaceuticals, alcohol, drugs, entertainment, consumption, and yes, guns.
I’ll do my best to breathe in and out today, breathing peace out into the world, and hopefully into me. I hope it works, but I’m so worried it won’t.
What will? What will it take? How do we get well? How do we stay awake?