Yes, this was my absolute first thought after seeing the first headlines coming out about the shooting at Arapahoe High School in Colorado on Friday 12/13/13. I know that by writing these thoughts I might be hated and called callous and unfeeling. I might receive hate mail. I might sabotage any idea I have at being a spiritual coach or guide. But there it is…relief that there weren’t more people injured in yet another senseless shooting. It is also a horror to me that this was even my first thought…”only two”. My heart horribly aches for any family or friends affected by this. But, I would be doing any victims of this incident a disservice if I lied about my first gut reaction. It was instant, true and horrific. It’s a reaction that I hope can be acknowledged as a line drawn in the sand of what we as a society can tolerate as an action borne out of numbness and irreverence.
How has it happened that school shootings or any multiple shooting has lost its sting to me? Have these shootings and violence crossed a threshold of “normalcy” to me and our culture? I still feel sad, but then realize it could have been worse. This is really upsetting to me as being someone who feels a lot.
My normal weekday is spent working a front desk at a mental health center listening to people’s problems, hearing the stories of abuse and pain and feeling that I can somehow be of service to them. I’ve always been ready and willing to lend a sympathetic ear or an encouraging word or smile or even silence to them to help be a witness to their process. They’re in pain and I see them as an increasing, invisible, shamed and silenced trend in our society. And, these are the people with the courage to come in and seek help. They are only but a fraction of people that are experiencing pain these days and don’t know how to deal with it yet alone have the courage to ask for help. They aren’t necessarily termed “mentally ill”. They are just in pain and don’t know how or have the tools to handle it.
How did we get here? How are we in this place of reaction to our feelings as opposed to processing them and feeling them? Have we become so adverse to feeling and being disappointed by life that we are forced to have no other option other than violence to show our displeasure? Are we becoming more and more desensitized and accustomed to these awful moments in our humanity?
I don’t see mass protests or movements to stop these senseless actions. We all feel sad for a few days or weeks or months and then life becomes normal again until the next time. How do we change? Do we even want to put the effort into trying? I see tons of happy Facebook postings…recipes, cute kid pictures, witty comments, quotes of empowerment and finding one’s purpose. But, where are the real conversations? The hard-to-face, honest conversations that need to take place in order to incite change?
These are questions I have no answers for. I only know that I have to sit with the realization that I thought “only two” as a reaction toward a senseless crime. And, I have a deep, sad knowing that out of all of the millions of people seeing the news of this shooting, that I couldn’t have been the only one.