“I don’t want to sound Pollyannaish, but I hope that out of a tragedy like this something good will come. I hope we understand we’re one family.” Madeleine Albright
The world currently is a place wrought with tragedy and undeniable acts of terrorism both domestic and international, human brutality and immense sadness. I’m not here to discuss any of these in great detail; it makes me very sad to do so. I am here to discuss something very unique about a world filled with so much senseless tragedy: how I react to it.
I was born in 1990 so local and national tragedies are not unfamiliar topics for me. 9/11, Colombine, The Oklahoma City bombing. But those times were different: I remember in those instances distinctly feeling hopeful. In those times of tragedy, communities banded together. We supported and loved each other. We knew in our mutual love and support we could guard ourselves from such terrible actions. As communities, friends and families we rallied together, loved and supported each other we inspired such greatness and poetry that would stand to testify to our resolve to not be broken down by these at the time isolated actions of misguided and often times truly evil renegades.
I am older now and the list of national tragedies I’ve seen has only grown with my age. The Aurora Theater Shooting, the Boston Marathon Bombing, the Sandy Hook shooting. But these had started to take on a new view in our nation’s collective consciousness: a very concerned apathy. We simply had not progressed as other developed nations had. We still faced national tragedies to such a degree that it was rare enough to lament but common enough to let slide past our normal daily new feeds. We didn’t pause for as long as we did just a few years ago.
It was another school shooting.
Think of the power of that statement. Another. There has been more than one? There has been so many that this one incident of immense tragedy and reckless violence that it is considered to be in league with other instances of mutually destructive evil?Yet we as friends, family and countrymen still came together. We sang songs, wore ribbons, used hashtags. All of those were a balm on the pulsing open wound of our nation’s bruised ego.
And all the while my continued battered optimism as I watched my country struggle through another national tragedy (another incredibly powerful and loaded statement). But in that tragedy I was inspired by the words of my President and other community leaders. My friends reminded me that we overcame such things before and we will again.
Certainly, it will be okay.
A new wave of national and international tragedies though have me thinking and what has come to be the most interesting and sad part of it is how I’ve been responding to such evil. I’m utterly gobsmacked. I am lost for words. I revert back to childish whining and tears because I can no longer bear the realities of these horrific acts. I am a writer, I am seldom at a loss for words. The recent tragedies of the day have left me speechless. Once words return I try and combat my profound sadness with the same cynical humor I have perfected as a shield in years of hardship. As these horrors continue to amass and abound I hope I can once more be eloquent and inspiring in my terror. The tired apathy my President displays when talking about the great failing that is gun violence in our nation is heartbreaking but it’s the same tired apathy we all share in such matters. We’re becoming numb to it. What we will tell our kids about the 2000s? 2010 and onwards? I don’t know if I could promise future generations the optimism our Boomer parents feigned for us. And who knows? Maybe we will come together. We will do so and be stronger. To be numb, you must first feel pain and in that feeling is the recognition that something has to give.