December 2, 2015

A Reflection on the Most Recent Mass Shooting

Well, today was a bad day, folks.

I got back from lunch and saw that there was a mass shooting.

Another mass shooting. Just numbers on the screen anymore.
But this one hit home more than most of the last 1000 mass shootings. I haven't had a existential emptiness in my stomach since I was listening to the radio and the number of dead kindergartners was growing by the minute. What was it, three years ago?

It hit home because they hit a place similar to the place I work. I thought people giving service to the disabled was an uncontroversial social good. Maybe I was wrong. No one's been caught, we don't know any motives.

It's just that I never really thought of my place of work as anything but a safe place. I can't be the only one. I had to legitimately ask about safety plans in a similar situation, since I didn't think we had one at work.

It makes me think of how this fear gets normalized. I remember my then-girlfriend calling me the day of the Columbine massacre. The way she described it, it took me several minutes to understand that it didn't happen at her school. There had been some smaller school shootings in the 90s, but nothing of that scale. I remember her emphasizing that all she wanted to do was graduate. School was no longer a safe place for her.

By the time I was teaching in 2007, we had drills. Less than a decade to normalize the threat of violence.

It's not just the schools, but everywhere. I have been to three concerts since the Paris attacks. In the back of my mind, I've had to think that there was a nonzero chance that I might be shot.

That’s a scary world we live in. Typing this makes me think of people who have lived their whole lives under the threat of violence. Black communities in America get telescoped to the whole of the middle east. Today the British Parliament took a vote on if they should bomb Syria and Iraq to fight ISIS (or whatever they’re being called today). That means that each member of parliament will undoubtedly have the blood of the innocents on their figurative hads as many who will die will have had the same thing I wanted - just to live my life in a day to day mundanity. And that’s just two of the many horrible things that happened today that I’m aware of.

What I hate most is how powerless it makes me feel.