When I’m on the road, I often get bad news from half-mast flags. I see a flag half-raised and I call somebody and ask, with trepidation: “What happened?” In the space between the flag and the news – sometimes moments, sometimes hours – I wonder, worry and expect the worst.
On Friday, out for a walk, I saw a lowered flag and came home to the horrific news from Connecticut. I read just enough online to know the what. I didn’t try to learn the why – because there is no why. There is no reason. Then I shut the machine, made a fire, watched the flames and wept.
Several years ago, my family was very closely affected by an all too similar shooting and we learned the hard, heartbreaking way, how brutal the aftermath can be when horrific news hits close to home. We knew firsthand what had happened and it was almost too much to bear. The endless speculation about the why, the relentless media cycle – less about meaningful answers, more about meaningless ratings – was truly unbearable.
The news is as bad as the act itself: morbid curiosity, endless speculation, so much gossip, too many lurid details, the kind of frenzy that mass killers have come to expect. How the public loves to hate people who want to be hated. Made famous and infamous, we give the madmen exactly what they want.
Yesterday, to get away from the news, I took a long walk in the woods. On a sunny December Saturday, I was not alone. On my 12-mile trek I crossed paths with a number of hunters and lots of hounds. Being in the presence of loaded guns with a mass shooting on my mind was a bit surreal, but everybody I saw was safe and cordial. We said hello and went on our separate ways.
As long as I can hike safely – decked out in bright orange – I have no problem with these men and their guns in the woods. I do have a problem with semi-automatic and automatic weapons. There is vast middle ground; I know, yesterday I hiked right through it.
This blog is apolitical because I am apolitical, but let me say this: We must evolve. We don’t live in 1791. Times have changed, guns have changed. We’re not talking about muskets anymore. This horror of guns and very public mass killings – which seems near continuous – will not stop until we take real and decisive measures to update the Second Amendement for today’s world and today’s arsenal. Our country must move forward. We must seek the middle ground. How? The same way you climb a mountain. One step at a time.
Also, read this plea, written by the mother of a developmentally disabled and disturbed young man, for better resources for the mentally ill, another side of this terrible coin: http://anarchistsoccermom.blogspot.com/2012/12/thinking-unthinkable.html