i am considering all the facebook twitter and blogs posted which stated things like our hearts and prayers go to the families of the victims of theatre 9. i am considering these posts along with the news interviews and breaking developments that have been shown again and again and again and i am wondering how sincere are we really? come monday how many posts will speak on the tragedy? will it still be the leading story on the evening news? or will we all have gone on with our lives? waiting at bus stops and checking our grocery lists twice, how committed are we as a community of families to support one another, really?
tragic events like aurora, colorado occur. they are terrifying and shake us all long enough for us to consider the possibility that perhaps something is array in a 1st world country where a man could walk into a movie theatre and shot 71 people. we stare into television screens and scroll through our smart phones searching for meaning in madness such as this. the day after we hold our children a tad bit too tight and we call our own mothers and grandmothers and talk past the ideal how are you’s filling in spaces with meaningful commentary on the state of our individual lives.
we blame the parents. we talk about how they must have known or what they could have done to raise a child who would not do such a thing. once the parents have been safely shamed in our mind’s eye for the monstrosity of the act committed by their offspring we turn on the victims themselves…how dare they be in that place at that time. we dissect their action and reaction. we pull apart each millisecond of the horror they survived or succumbed to, we wonder out loud and online about how we would’ve reacted differently had it been us, that time.
we watch in silence as our children replay the events they have heard us speak about…i’ll be batman you be the shooter. we interrupt them when we think the ‘play’ has gone too far. and more quickly than one would imagine we return to our today and relinquish the idea that change is possible and we can in some way no matter how small effect the change that is needed. and though we shake our heads at the sadness and loss families of victims now suffer, we return to our local stations and wonder out loud if the weather will be swell enough for a picnic or gardening. and following our lead the newscasters stop talking about it and return to the things that get better ratings in water cooler chatter.
we 1st worlders can be so fickled when it comes to tragedy and loss. we commit to do things like wear a hoodie or pin a purple ribbon. we will spend a dollar on a sticker to put on our car never really questioning where the money goes or if it will indeed support a survivor in any way. we sign online petitions or send our thoughts to op-ed blogs never leaving the comfort of our sofa/lounger. the few who do are judged as busy bodies or heralded as heros who allow us to maintain our distance from the work of change.
do we really want better? i ask myself. do we really want a world where horrors like aurora or virginia tech or columbine are the things made for movies not realities? do we want a world where the right to quality health care, effective education and affordable safe housing is as protected as the right to bear arms for every citizens? or do we worry about how much higher our tax bill would go up if we did? what really is our bottom line? and how low will some desperate soul drag us to find out?
in my own mind and heart i don’t have the answers. even as i write this i am recounting a day spent celebrating the life of my own five year old. a confirmed 1st world mom, there was face painting and balloons and video gaming and too much pizza. i thought of the mothers and fathers in aurora. i considered the families who are today planning memorials and funerals not just in aurora but in cleveland and detroit and chicago and…i thought about how come august i will need to cast my vote in my state’s primaries and i have no idea who i will vote for or if they will be able to bring the funds and support my community desperately needs. i considered the state of my local school board and the questions from a friend about where to drop off clothing she no longer needs. i thought about how much and how little we all have. our closets may be full but there are elements in our lives that fill so empty. our children have so many opportunities but their motivation waivers. who are we, really?
we work so hard. those of us with jobs and those without. we don’t vacation or take siestas. we plan our plans and leave very little room for spontaneous joy. we drive ourselves so hard that retirement has become a second career. they is no space for lazy in this country. one of the things i love most about us is our collective work ethic. bob the builder is the quintessential 1st worlder. remember, his consummate request ‘can we fix it?‘ wouldn’t it be something if we all responded overwhelmingly and with the intent to truly roll our sleeves up and get to work, with ‘yes we can!‘