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Posts Tagged ‘remorse’

Thoughts After The Shooting In Orlando June 12, 2016

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The Grit in the Gullet

So we have a new mass murder, a big one, and the argument immediately begins again on gun control. The righteous shouts renew on the need for more stringent gun legislation. The counter voices erupt with shouts about cold dead hands and constitutional rights. Then there’s my small (but vibrantly masculine) voice, possibly others as well, quietly murmuring there may be a larger problem here, something more difficult to grasp, something underneath; the problem of what makes this type of disgusting act possible and why, in our day and age, does the next one seem inevitable.

I view the gun argument as unrealistic (there is no chance of wishing guns away) or at its best, a band-aid that covers an infected wound, a way of ignoring the underlying problem. The reason for this distraction seems valid and for most people it has become a necessary distraction from the larger, trickier issue. The bottom line is this mass murder and all others like it are my fault. To say it’s societies fault or the assault rifles fault or the killers fault seems disingenuous to me. When I read about these killings, I know deep down, in some fundamental way, it is my fault. But if you think I’m going down alone, you’ve got another think coming. Most of you are coming with me.

I know it’s my fault because I don’t react in horror the way I should. I know it’s my fault because I don’t care about any of the people involved the way I should. These killings affect my life in no direct or impactful way. I dread the day one of them will, but at the moment, I am still safe in my own little world. I can imagine the pain the victims, witnesses, and families were and are forced to endure. Of course I can. I’m a writer, it’s part of the job, a big part. The trouble is, for me, I keep looking past the horror of the act itself. I’m on a constant search to find the ‘why’ and in trying to find the ‘why’ I inevitably find myself standing in the spotlight and on trial.

The problem is so much more than guns or terrorism or violence in movies and video games. The problem is in the way I live day to day. Being a curmudgeon (however lovable) means I am part of the problem. It means that I’m not connected to the people around me in a positive, uplifting way. My excuse for this is that I may be a humbug, but I try to make people laugh. It’s a good excuse. It grants me carte blanche to say what I feel needs to be said. I can spread terrible truths as the sad clown.

Unfortunately, most of us are responsible for, at the very least, dipping our toes in this collective negativity. Whether it be discussing politics or religion, watching Fox News, or bitching about the boss and that weird person in the office no one likes. We contribute by not calling our moms, ignoring the homeless, and repeating the American mantra of, “that’s not my problem.”

I’m not saying we are bad people. We aren’t. None of us are. This isn’t a judgement of our character. It’s an indictment of our innate survival instinct. Even these mass murderers were innocent and naive at one point. We can’t be held responsible for the lives we have never touched and pessimism is a legitimate lifestyle. But if we just took that extra second to ask cousin so-and-so what they meant by that hateful remark or found out why that one friend won’t let anyone look in their closet or made the effort to tell the people we love how important they are to us more often, then we all, in our own tiny way, could be contributing to the end of these terrible acts.

But until we do, until I do, there won’t be any easy answers. And I, for one, am sorry for my part in it.

-LJT 2016


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