The last time I wrote here about a shooting was 2012. I was heartsick, and it’s no less painful to hear about another school, and another, and another, and stores and places of faith and homes. Twenty-one lost in the Uvalde school with parents begging for aid. To not only be denied assistance from the only people we’re told have any authority to render action in emergencies, but to be held back from doing anything– knowing that if you fight to save your babies, the most vulnerable in any situation, but especially in this instance of literal threat to their lives, it will be (and was) held against you– The weight of these thoughts alone, the chain links of if/then’s that form to constrict my heart and lungs, is crushing. And these families, like too many others across the U.S., lived it.
I’m terrified of becoming numb from over exposure to this kind of heartache. I’m terrified to lose the fury to fight the circumstances that allow this to keep happening under the building layers of grief. Mourning is a blanket becoming too heavy, too stifling the more there’s cause. I beg it not to develop into a callous. I’d rather suffer than become indifferent.
I’m terrified to become indifferent.
I’m equally terrified to lose the pinging reminder in my mind that this is the fallout, these lives are the collateral of other failures that brought into being this person in this moment who chose to commit to something monstrous. I don’t want to lose sight and become complicit in maintaining the structures that build these events. I refuse. It would be too easy to say no one but a monster could decide to do violence, to separate the decision from pain, from anger, from experiences just as human as joy and love and connection. It’s a grotesque feeling in any of us to consider we could be driven to murder, and because so many of us never have, we desperately assume we never will. It’s so outside the scope of every day life for those of us graced with this assumption as a truth as to seem impossible, and we seem to know intrinsically it should be this way for everyone. Those who have been driven so far by whatever seem like they must be separate, wrong beings; they must have come into existence already broken, or maybe it’s not even worth considering how they got there beyond a hunt to find particular people at fault, people to blame and take the burden of collective rage, an easily identified target in order to feel that justice was in some way served, that we are not so helpless as we felt to stop harm while it happened. But surely They are not any of Us. The monster is not us; the responsibility of keeping the monster is not ours. We can not be the monster; we could never build the monster. The monstrous is entirely detached– never attached in the first place to become de-attached– to us. Surely. It would feel better, safer, if this was true. It would be too easy to decide it was true when it isn’t me and isn’t you.
I refuse to become complacent, to pretend, to deny.
More if/then’s that weigh on my heart. The chain grows and wraps and wraps, and following the links is the very picture of spiraling.
My youngest siblings are still in school. I can only remember to breathe, and love them, and watch them grow, and hope they know we love them as easy breathing should be, no matter what. May they never face the fallout of someone else’s failures. May we not fail them so thoroughly that they see creating suffering as a viable solution to anything at all. May the blanket of grief not snuff out the fire to fight, to connect, and hold each of us all together with determined hope. I will love them, and I will love you, with all the ferocity in me.
May we keep us all from monstrosity.
EDIT: I wish to make something exceedingly clear– none of the above is in any way meant to detract from the part easily accessible firearms played in this or any of the shootings. That shit needs to go. This, too, is part of loving each other; keeping the easiest tools of the highest monstrosities out of easy reach. AND while we’re at it, so is redistribution of the militarisation budget of police into services to support communities, every member.
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