In a deliberate act of self-preservation, I have been very out of touch with current events for the past several months. Realizing that I don't (currently) have the stomach for activism or the ability to deal with the state of this country has resulted in me living a life that's almost completely free of the internet. Yes, I have the luxury to ignore literally everything. Yes, I feel guilty about it. I do what I can with my pocketbook, but beyond that I've basically been in hiding off and on since late 2016.
Yesterday morning, Madscutter sent me this:
I wanted to learn more about this cat who gives zero fucks, and someone in the comment section was actually able to identify the location (Turkey!) and the cat. Someone else linked to an article in the Guardian about Turkey's overall relationship with cats (it is grand), and it made me smile.
I glanced at a list of other popular articles in the sidebar and saw a headline about the Florida school shooting. My reaction was:
Then I thought about how different my reaction to this was from my reaction to Columbine. Like many people, I'll never forget watching the news about Columbine and having no words. No one did. This was unprecedented. It was unbelievable. I couldn't really comprehend what I was seeing, because it made no sense. The nation mourned that tragedy together.
Afterwards, the gun laws stayed the same, and the schools responded by widening their "zero tolerance" to include disciplining kids for doing anything even vaguely violent. The murderous snowmen my brother used to doodle during class in the 80s would earn him a suspension now. Repeating the most famous quote from "The Princess Bride" ("My name is Inigo Montoya...") did result in my son being disciplined for behaving in a "threatening manner".
But we kept the guns. We kept the actual danger. In fact, we increased the danger by buying more and more guns. We are at the point that there are more guns than there are people in this country. When I google information on gun stats in this country, I don't bother include "United States" in my search. I don't need to. Most other countries don't have a gun problem. The U.S. is one of only four countries where the right to gun ownership is guaranteed by the constitution, and we have the most lax laws of the four (Mexico, Haiti, and Guatemala are the other 3).
The rest of the world thinks we're fucking nuts. I can't disagree.
Wednesday's mass murder hit me harder than usual. Instead of getting tangled up in the circular meaningless arguments about whether it's a gun problem, mental health problem, or both, I couldn't stop thinking about the 17 sets of parents who lost the biggest part of their world in seconds as a result of one person's indiscriminate rampage.
Then I thought about the survivors, and how they will have to live with this trauma for the rest of their lives.
We do have a mental health problem in this country.
We do have a gun problem in this country.
Every mass murder produces hundreds of new mental health patients suffering from PTSD.
Last night I cried for the victims, their families, and the survivors of the mass shooting. I usually don't. We're so used to this happening in our country, that I'm numb to it all. I don't know why this one was different for me, but it was. Maybe it's because I don't think I could survive something like this happening to my son. Madscutter agreed that it would ruin his life as well. But all we seem to be able to do as a country is fight about it, and change nothing.
Note for Millennials:
I'm sorry. I'm so sorry the older generations (Boomers & Gen-Xers) can't figure out how to keep you safe in your schools. I'm sorry that our government is so corrupt that passing any sensible gun law is impossible because your lawmakers rely too much on receiving money from the NRA to fund their campaigns. I'm sorry that our government responds to the mental health crisis by making cuts to the programs that may actually help. I'm sorry the citizens of the older generations aren't willing to have their tax dollars go to these programs. I'm sorry that a common response from older people about these mass murders is to cluck their tongues and say "nothing could have prevented this". There is no excuse. We have failed you.
Note for NRA-Owned Politicians:
There were several students in that Florida school who responded to your "thoughts and prayers" platitudes with anger, disgust, and demand for action. Do you realize that every time something like this happens, more and more young people get more and more angry? They're already yelling at you on Twitter. Can you imagine what they're going to do to you when they're old enough to vote and run for office?
Personally, I can't wait.