12/17/12

Sharing "Our" Loss . . .

Let's not beat around the bush - something horrible and unspeakable happened in rural, beautiful, otherwise-tranquil Connecticut on Friday. There is NO way to "explain" it. It will never be "understood" and there is no way to ever "accept" what happened, why it happened, or the motivations and reasons of the gunman (who is a subhuman piece of shit and if you even know his name, much less speak it, you're doing yourself and those dead children and adults a great disservice (Google the Samuel L. Jackson rant if you want more elaboration here)).

HERE is another way you are doing yourself and the lost a great disservice . . . by obsessing.

Do not misunderstand me. The death of anyone, much less the massacre style shootings of innocent educators and children, is a true loss that deserves to be felt, absorbed, thought upon, absorbed by, and otherwise washed over with BY THE FRIENDS, FAMILY, and COMMUNITIES that survive the loss. I know I'm emotionally damaged so I probably don't have a leg to stand on here (and feel free to comment on this post but please know I will not be debating proper mourning etiquette with any of you) but I don't understand why WE (as a collective American public) "need" to know the names, faces, basic bios, and general happenings of those killed. Fact - We do NOT. There is NO benefit to any of us in it. We won't sleep better. We won't feel better. We won't "heal" faster as a "nation" and we don't help defray the mourning or pain by knowing exactly who we are praying for and extending our hearts on behalf of.

I had a "moment" on Friday. While working for IBM, my then-wife and I owned a home in Bethel, CT. The town adjacent to Newtown. We looked at houses in Newtown. We almost sold our Bethel house and bought one in Newtown but, instead, moved here to Wichita. If we'd have bought a different house, and stayed in Connecticut, our daughter would have been IN THAT SCHOOL and perhaps (as a 1st grader - and I'm pissed at myself I even know enough to know that was the class massacred) IN THAT CLASSROOM the day that horrible sack of shit went in and did his worst. I was shaken by that. But only for a few hours. Then I was (again) able to say "Everything happens for a reason" and I was secretly thankful that Joy hated Connecticut and that I was a neurotic mess working for Big Blue and that we made the decision to move to be with Joy's family and to make friends here versus be alone in the Nutmeg State. It may have saved my daughter's life.

What is the point of that? Here's my ONLY take away from the shootings . . . that my daughter is fine. That YOUR daughter is fine. That YOU are fine (unless you are reading this in Newtown, CT and - in that case - my condolences on your loss). That THIS has very, very little to do with you beyond reminding you to be appreciative for what you have. These shootings did NOT happen to "us" as a people. They happened to a handful of families and a community that surrounds them. "We" are not impacted by these shootings beyond how we want to be (the mercy in that should not be lost on all you people obsessing and sharing what we do NOT know for whatever reason you feel the "need" to).

Here's what I want you people that are Tweeting, Facebooking, LinkedIning (word?), and otherwise blogging your rage and sadness over this incident, our gun laws, our failed justice system, or whatever else you are indignant about. STOP IT!

Seriously. STOP. Put the Internet, TV, newspaper, magazines, radio, and blogs down (or turn them off, more accurately). There is NO solace coming in the "continued coverage" of these media outlets. I could not even get ready for work today with my beloved KMUW-FM/NPR's Morning Edition as they seemed to be fixated on telling us all that there is still NOTHING known and that it could be a long time before any details emerge that can say we KNOW anything. Instead they, and so many other media outlets and so many individuals in Tweets (Friday is another day where I'm thankful to not have Facebook in my life) just do piece after piece after piece (I gave it three and then I turned it off, sorry Brianna) on what we don't know or rehashing the little we do. It reminded me of September 11, 2001 when the media had 15 seconds of total footage and just kept showing and showing and showing it (you know the footage - it is burned in your brains).

STOP watching. STOP obsessing. And for ALL that is good and holy STOP trying to make yourself part of this tragedy. GO hug your children. Call your kid's teachers and thank them for all they do for your children's general well being. Better  yet - take them all lunch today. Let's FLOOD our schools with lunch, gifts, support, and appreciation instead of calls about safety, guns, and estimates for metal scanners. Here's one better - if you want to let the teachers just teach . . . Talk to your children (tweens to late-60s) and see if they are really okay (and not in the context of Friday but in the context of their lives). If they are not - figure out what you can do with and for them. Don't let people hurt. Don't ignore what you can do while wasting energy on what you can NOT.

Need an active outlet for your self-imposed angst? Call a restaurant or floral shop or any business in Newtown - give them your credit card number and tell them the next $X spent in their store is on you. And demand you get no credit or recognition. Have some time later today where you think about someone in your life that may be sad, angry, anti-social, distressed, miserable, or otherwise unsteady and see if there isn't something you can do to protect them and the people around them. Call them. Go see them. Hug them. Urge them to get some help for their sadness or whatever is keeping them from "normalcy." Take this tragedy and turn it in to kindness. Don't waste your time with the misery. Focus your energy on trying to make sure your life is insulated and warm.

September 11th, Columbine, Aurora, Virginia Tech, Oklahoma City, etc. All these dates and places have a thing in common . . . all have wonderful, beautiful, amazing things to offer but have been co-opted as the names of tragedies heaped on us by people who don't deserve our attention and pain and destruction for pockets of people who may never fully recover from what happened in their lives.

And here's another thing I might urge - enough with the gun policy blather. You're NOT going to get guns off the streets any more than you are drugs, or you're going to keep tobacco from kids, alcohol from pregnant women, and cats from unloved-feeling lonely women. Should we have regulations and safety measures in place? Sure. Why not. We already DO. Goodonya!

Know what else we should do? Fix mental health. Let's put every drop of our collective sadness in to demanding better access to, understanding of, and acceptance for mental health treatment and the professionals and patients that fuel the system. I've been in counseling, off and on, my entire life. Has it "fixed" me? Nope. Does it help? Yep. Does it keep me from just wallowing in whatever misery I feel? Every. Frigging. Day. And here's another one . . . let's make it the norm that parents don't just let their pathetically miserable children go off to school or out in the world with their problems because - hey - the parents did their best and that kid is 18 now. Bullshit. Bull. Shit. There is not a single person that has committed any of these acts that did not put some blood back on their parent's hands in their acts. I have one child. I pray NIGHTLY that she'll grow up to be well adjusted and generally happy (I know it won't be easy with the parents she has and the divorce she is surviving) but I will be damned if she's NOT happy and I just figure that she'll figure it out magically. Parenting never ends. Just ask my mother and father that leave me the sweetest, most loving and supportive voicemail messages EVERY time I ignore their calls (smile).

Let's recap . . .

1) Feel the loss in sympathetic terms vs. trying to make it about you.
2) Hug your children.
3) Thank our educators.
4) Do a mental checklist to see if everyone in your life is happy and healthy. If not - DO SOMETHING to help them.
5) Forget gun policy - focus on mental health policy.
6) Do something kind for someone today, tomorrow, Wednesday, etc. etc. etc.
7) Stop using the name of a fucking piece of shit who decided to waste all those bullets ending innocent lives versus just putting one through his own head like he cowardly did after his rampage anyway.
8) Have a nice day.

There. My thoughts on Newtown. As angry as you probably expected - and for THAT, I thank you.