I usually try to keep my blog posts positive and independent of the travesties and tragedies happening in our political, social, judicial systems, and all of our other systems. Today I can’t post about sewing projects, the daily post, or plant-based recipes because I can’t compartmentalize the terrible situation at Douglas High School yesterday. I lived down the street from that school, I still know hundreds of people who live in South Florida. My heart went out to them last year, when I saw images of the baggage claim in Ft. Lauderdale being turned into a shooting range, and it finds them again today.
The violence yesterday has struck such a chord with me; I am beside myself as I hear that gun/bomb threats are causing lockdowns all over South Florida schools today and that my friends know children hospitalized with gunshot wounds. What are the aftershocks to other children who were “unaffected” yesterday, but find themselves living in a code red today, locked inside a school that could be their tomb?
I am a tutor and recently helped a 7th grade student organize/outline/edit a paper based on the essay prompt was “an event.” He wrote about his first concert, but the paper took an ominous turn when his stream-of-consciousness brainstorming led to a reflection on the Orlando and France shootings. Fear is just a part of this generation’s experience of attending a concert with family. As each potential victim got picked up by the school bus and dropped off at school, they all had to confront that fear this morning.
High school is hard enough to navigate with the hormones and peer pressure. Do these kids really need the additional anxiety that a classmate might have a semi-automatic rifle?
I grew up with relative freedom from terror in my youth. I heard my mother’s stories of bomb-drills during the Cuban missile crisis. I struggled to imagining what it would be like to live with palpable fear at school. South Florida is 90 miles from Cuba, hiding under a desk doesn’t seem like very good protection from nuclear holocaust, had the US decided to pursue a hot war with Castro.
I remember the shock of hearing about Columbine and the aftermath. It’s crazy to realize Columbine(12 deaths) is now a small casualty toll when compared to modern mass shootings. As I hear the stories of the Douglas High School shooting, I digest the news that students have “live shooter” drills at school instead of fire drills. Is it just me, or is that life-support now that we have given up on finding an antidote?
I have been moved to tears several times in the wake of this recent violence. Not because it is worse than others, although the death toll is higher, but because of the hopelessness tone everyone has in regards to preventing a future outbreak of violence. When did the movie Heathers stop being a farce and become a cautionary tale?
Cruz’s actions are just the most recent monologue in a thread started by the “trenchcoat mafia.” He is communicating with some other person living with mental illness somewhere else in the country and empowering them to get off the sidelines and take the same actions next. His rampage will undoubtedly serve as the flint for someone else’s fire, while we all sit and hope it isn’t in our own backyard.
I wonder what aspect of the American society is broken to an extent that created these monsters in our midst? I recall an interesting New York Times article a few years ago, The Violence in Our Heads. In researching schizophrenia, the author compares Americans’ auditory hallucinations to those elsewhere. We in the U.S. hear violent commands, while the sample in India usually heard the voices in their head telling them to clean or cook. That is literally why 20 million people have Alexa! Why the disparity? What makes the U.S. so different? Is it because we confuse net worth and self-worth? Is it a side effect of malnourishment caused by eating processed by-products instead of food? Is it just an inevitable consequence of being isolated from each other in our digital society? Or from being insulated from others who don’t share our opinions in our virtual society? Because instead of using the term consumption to refer to an unknown disease, we envy the rich kids of instagram and their conspicuous consumption? Or as Occam’s razor would suggest, is it just the overabundance of guns?
I am sending all my love to everyone affected. Including Cruz himself, he is just the product of our society’s dysfunction and there will be another disaffected youth (or adult) following in his footsteps. Imminently, no doubt…