It’s Been a Year

 

Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, Parkland, Florida.

It’s one of those places now that, just by mentioning its name, evokes vivid, horrifying images for us all.

One year ago today, that school lived its worst nightmare.

An eighteen-year-old former student showed up on campus with a semiautomatic rifle and shot seventeen people to death; fourteen of them, students.

Most of us can’t possibly imagine what that experience was like; to helplessly watch the surreal scene of a gunman randomly killing people, killing your friends. 

And you wait, paralyzed in utter shock and terror, for your turn.

Can you imagine?

And today, all the surviving students, teachers, families and members of the community who have lived with this horrific tragedy every day for the last year, will commemorate this anniversary by honoring the memory of those who were lost, and by renewing their commitment to putting an end to the senseless violence that forever changes the lives of all who are affected by it.

Which, incidentally, is all of us.

 

So then, let’s all honor the memory of those who died tragically a year ago. Let’s remind ourselves of how precious the people in our lives are, and how we need to let them know that every chance we get, because the time could come when we run out of chances.

I was listening to a man on the radio this morning recalling his experience that day. He was at a Starbucks just blocks away from the school when the shootings happened. He clearly remembers all the parents’ phones ringing at once. He remembers the horrified screams, the panic and chaos.

And he remembers one mother’s tearful regret over not telling her daughter goodbye that morning before she left for school.

Remind the people you love that you love them. Today.

 

And let’s also honor the memory of those who died by letting our lawmakers know very clearly that there is no longer any excuse for weak and inadequate gun control laws. This insanity has to stop, and they have the power to make it happen, if they can just stop kissing the arse of the National Rifle Association.

Let’s all speak out. The Stoneman students are; let’s support them. Let’s join them.

Today, we are all Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School.

 

#MSDStrong

Tired

 

I’m tired, boss…mostly, I’m tired of people bein’ ugly to each other.

John Coffey (Michael Clarke Duncan), “The Green Mile”, 1999

 

I’m tired, too, John.

By now, I’m flat wore out, as we say around here.

Lately, as you know, people are being ugly to each other in all kinds of ways, and I’m plenty tired of all of it, but especially…

I’m tired of people taking it upon themselves to go and shoot several other people, for any reason or for none at all.

You can’t go to church, you can’t go to the grocery store, you can’t go to a bar, you can’t go to school, you can’t f****ng go anywhere that there isn’t the possibility of getting shot to death.

The American flag may as well be flown at half mast from now on.

And the sadness of that is absolutely overwhelming.

This is how bad it’s gotten: One of the survivors from this week’s shooting in Thousand Oaks, California, was also in Las Vegas, Nevada a year ago, when that shooting occurred.

But another survivor of the Vegas shooting was killed this week in Thousand Oaks.

When people are present at more than one mass murder event…

The really cynical among us probably wonder what these gunmen have against country music, around which both these events centered.

The rest of us know it’s no laughing matter at all.

 

All these people. All these precious, beautiful, innocent people. Attending their classes. Worshipping their god. Enjoying a night out with friends.

Unaware.

Then, in the blink of an eye…

Utterly incomprehensible, unspeakable tragedy. My God, the tragedy.

I’m not gonna trot out all the gun violence statistics we probably could all recite by now. I’m not gonna bring up the gun owners and their Second Amendment rights. I’m not gonna rage against our government’s continued impotence over this crisis as the body count just keeps going up. I’m not gonna point out how the phrase “thoughts and prayers” is, by now, as empty and hollow as the barrel of a spent gun.

Because I’m tired.

I’m not numb to it, mind you. I haven’t quit caring about it; not at all.

I’m just…tired. Physically, mentally, emotionally tired.

First, the horror, then the sorrow, then the anger and frustration. Over and over and over. It wears you down, I tell you.

John Coffey, I’m right there with you, brother.

 

Fire, Bleed, Repeat

 

Really, is there any point?

Any point at all in discussing the school shooting in a Florida high school on Wednesday?

The one that left seventeen people dead, at the hands of a nineteen-year-old former student? With a rifle?

That filled our TV screens with crying students and crying parents and SWAT teams and somber reporters?

That rang the bell for Round Whatever of the great Gun Debate?

Really, is there any point?

When we all know the end result will be…nothing.

And the story will disappear from the news cycle in a week or two.

And the whole f####ng scenario will play out again. And again. And again.

I honestly don’t know where to go from here. I can’t offer any hope. I can’t offer any rage. I think it’s all a waste of my breath.

So, I’ll just offer this:

To those of you who lost people you loved in this tragedy, I am so very deeply sorry. My heart is broken for you.

But, just as heartbreaking, is that you’re likely just the latest in a never ending line.

Because our attention span is just too short to allow us to care.

That’s the truth.