Watching tears flow, chests heave, and unspeakable grief play out on our televisions. Being forced to revisit time and place. Questioning how school shootings have become so commonplace, not protecting our children; terminating lives early; changing channels, avoiding discussing the unspeakable. Casting eyes elsewhere, while rapid sounds continue to ring in our heads, hearing a now familiar sound of rapid gun fire, wondering what we would do, how we would act if faced with such terror.
What we can do now? “Too soon to talk,” repeated by some. “We will pray for you”, regurgitated by others. Words spoken in the same predictable manner as a wound-up toy, moving across the floor, in a familiar pattern or path, towards the wall – repeat, repeat, repeat – knowing full well once it unwound any movement will cease, incapable of doing nothing else, against the wall, on the floor, until the next time.
“We will pray for you”, they say again; reminding us of those people we never want to pray for us. Knowing they may well pray – and nothing else – before going back to their regular activities, while the slaughter continues. A hollow sound, ringing – tap – tap – neither black or white, non-discriminatory terror played out in living color, rendering from our children real blood. Oh sure, I remember the adages reminding us that even with forest fires, there is rebirth. The reminders: flood water cures droughts, bringing to our planet nourishment, replenishment of the water table; traumatic events represent the good and bad. Changing lives, sometime tragic, others times not; forever reminders for us to keep the faith. Should we assume this time, the next – the next? From ashes to ashes, dust to dust, so we say. So we pray.
Stopping in place, looking at familiar tears flowing, while these survivors expressed their anger, packaging fears in tidy bundles, screaming back at America, joining the Sandy Hook, Columbine parents, the rest of us, all infected with this uniquely American disease. Screaming at politicians and those who wrongly believe their freedoms are tied to a totally unregulated ownership of weapons of mass-destruction. Speaking truth to power, screaming at those with real and ostensible power; don’t pray for us, do something or we will. Awakening me from my stupor; perhaps awakening others too.
Telling they did. Following the color of money, both red and green; posting contributions from the National Rifle Association (NRA); using profane words, seemingly more appropriate this time, not-at-all about respecting ones elders.
Tattle-tales they were; speaking truths about the duplicity of our supposed leaders. You were not there, in the closets, under the desk, watching my friend die, said as a promise to their dead and dying friends who occupied the same battlefield; done while those same strange sounds continue to overlay – over and on top of their reality – causing words, and promises to emit from the mouths of babes. Tap – tap – tap.
Perhaps there will be action this time. Not from our leaders. Not from those sending hollow prayers. Committed words spoken around and under flowing tears, promising to work at stopping the nonsense; not wanting their siblings, friends and later generations to experience the same blind madness we have permitted on our watch.