Friday, December 14, 2012

No Words

It's hard not to write about the events of today, particularly if you are the sort of soul that makes sense of things through writing.   But it's perhaps harder to write about that mass shooting, part of a seemingly endless cascade of gun violence in our culture.

What is there to say that has not been said?  Since Columbine, and Virginia Tech, and Aurora, since that classroom full of little Amish children, since...but there are too many, and lists bore us.    And those are just the outlier events, not the deaths by the ones and twos that are just part of the ubiquitous background hum of every day.  You only notice on the mornings your street is cordoned off, and you walk by a man scrubbing the blood of your child's classmate from the ground.

What remains to be spoken?  Words feel empty and inadequate, hollow things, just scribbling.

It feels so familiar, so unsurprising.  Yes, they were children, including apparently an entire class of kindergarteners, bright little lights extinguished so terribly soon.  My heart moves my memory to my own children's classes, filled with tiny faces.  It bends the imagination past any familiar place.  All gone.  How could they all be gone?  What an impossible thing.

But for all of our claiming that our hearts are broken today, I'm reasonably certain that the heart of this nation is not broken by this tragedy.  We will, as individuals and particularly as parents, weep and feel a sense of horror.  The anguish in the faces of parents is too real for us to miss.  Individually, we are not monsters.

But together?   There will be funerals, and there will be a week or maybe two of handwringing and debate.  And then it will again become clear.  We as a people do not care.  It does not matter to us, not really.  We will do nothing, and then we will forget.   We the people will be unmoved.

The calculus of our body politic has already settled on these recurring events as a necessary part of our life together.  We know what we'd need to do to change it.  It is before us.   It is not complicated.

But it is our preference not to act.  Now is not the time, we will say.  It's too complicated, we will say.

We are comfortable with this.  We are at ease.  We will weep in the now, shedding the tears of the moment.   But like the soul who weeps at that praise song on Sunday, and goes right back to their life unchanged on Monday, our tears will bring nothing new.

It is easy to feel helpless.  It is hard enough to know that no words can be said that will bring those children back.  But it is harder still to feel that no words can be said that will prevent this from occurring again.

Another thing best left to God, because all that I am is not enough for it.