Wednesday, December 26, 2012

"Calamity Makes Cousins Of Us All"

It can be said that a blog is a contemporary pulpit with the blogger being a sort of digital preacher with the powers of anonymous judgment and spell check at his or her disposal. Please do not view the forthcoming blog post as such. While most of my blogs tend to center around Sean Taylor's latest blunder while featuring other playful anecdotes of varying resonance and a chance for me to showcase my latest vocabulary word (obstreperous, if you're wondering), I wanted to use a post to speak about something a bit more pressing to our nation and something, obviously, of much more gravity in the Sandy Hook Elementary shooting.

Again, I haven't a soapbox and would have no desire to stand on one if you offered, I blog about this black eye in human history admittedly because it does raise some interesting talking points that I think most everyone would at least feel the need to reflect upon for themselves, but mostly because it's a way for me personally to talk about something without dwelling on something. Like it or not, this tragic story, with the brief yet ironic reprieve during Christmas, has been the be all end all of media since the event and it has brought to the forefront of immediate decision and action some of the more polarizing and pressing debates in America today in statutes of gun possession and access to mental health care. Stances on these issues are vehement and firm, but for me, it's not so much about agreeing upon what's right going forward, but more about agreeing that what occurred was so wrong.

In hindsight that wording may be misleading. I mean, I'd like to believe that nobody out there really believes that the murder of defenseless children is "right", I'm referring more to the events aftermath in the sense that this event was so jarring that it motivated even the most casual of newsreaders/watchers to react and call for change one way or the other. Its compelling and almost a shame that it takes such cold moments of tragedy for people to realize the connectivity that binds us all together. The human experience is a fragile one.

The thought of banning guns and essentially repealing the second amendment sounds solid in theory. In a Utopian world, no guns would equal no gun violence. Come to think of it, a Utopian world wouldn't need guns at all, but as you surely know, we live in anything but a Utopian world. I agree that the notion of more guns equaling more safety is about as assbackwards as a notion can get, but I'm also of the opinion that just because there's a law against having a gun, it doesn't mean that guns and gun violence will disappear. I feel like if a person wanted a gun badly enough, they'd find a way to get one. Your natural argument would be "if that repeal saves even one life, wouldn't it be worth it?" That argument kind of shuts me up, I admit, but I do stick to the belief that you wouldn't actually be doing all that much to alleviate a no-win situation by abolishing the right to bear arms.

The much more glaring issue this shooting leaves us eye to eye with is that of mental healthcare for people in this country. I won't dignify that man by mentioning his name, but if society had more affordable outlets to give him the help he so clearly needed, maybe this blog post wouldn't be written right now. Even to that end, who's responsibility is it to ensure he gets that help he needs? At what point do we police each other to differentiate between shy, socially awkward people, to those who truly have darker motives and deeper issues? It's one thing to say that a person needs help, but another for that person to accept that they need help. People should be provided the medical help they need and it should certainly be easier to get help than a gun, but at the end of the day, every incident like this is more or less subjective. Lumping other autisics, and even gun owners, into this guy's world and mindset is perhaps unfair, but also hard to avoid, at least while these social wounds are still so fresh.

One thing that troubles me immensely is some of the verbage surrounding this event. About how this event is unprecedented, one of a kind, and one of the worst tragedies of it's kind in American history. I mean, this massacre WAS all of those things. I guess I just kind of don't like the tone of the media coverage because it kind of loosely implies that if a student went into a high school and shot other students it would be a little easier to understand, cope with, and get over and would by now be more of a local story than a national one as America's families send up one more prayer for those families and returns to normalcy. I don't think that implication is in my head, but I also don't exactly know how I would change that. I guess I'm just bitter about the degree to which violence has become so commonplace in our society that we meet events like this with a moment of silence and relative apathy.

I don't have answers for these issues and I don't presume to have any. If issues had cut and dry solutions, they wouldn't be issues.

This is not so much my tribute to the 26 who died so senselessly. Despite best intentions, I feel like any attempt to capture the scope of the Sandy Hook shootings in words ("26 angels, valliant heroes, God's children, other more poetic turns at tribute) don't exactly ring insincere, but certainly fall short in just about every instance I've encountered. There's no excuse for what happened and regrettably, even less explanation. Some things happen in the world that just break your heart in every possible way and are bigger than words. I struggle to wrap my head around it to this day, especially as we leave Christmas behind us.

I guess, rather than a tribute to Newtown, this is my appeal to society to motivate a change that goes beyond gun laws. There are people in this world who need help and while we all have our own problems in life, as cliche as it sounds, be the change you want to see in the world. No one's a saint and I'm certainly no exception, but I genuinely believe that making a conscious effort to keep an open mind, heart, and hand to others can go a long way. Don't let this Newtown massacre have happened in vain. A social moral conscious towards our fellow man is the only fitting tribute we can give those we have lost.

Song of the Day: Once Upon A Time-Smashing Pumpkins
Jazz Song of the Day: Acknowledgement-John Coltrane