People are asking what could have been done? It is something that we cannot even put into words. The pain in the hearts of people across the country and around the world is palpable. It hits us much like our speechlessness and shell-shock of 9/11. We cannot hide the emotion or the tears. Thinking about it all day, in the middle of a meeting or shopping at the grocery store. Shaking our heads in disbelief - again. It has been happening again and again, year after year, but there is nothing usual or typical or acceptable about it. When it's over, there are floods of stories of how isolated, disturbed, frightening, quiet, anti-social the perpetrator was...before he walked into a neighborhood school and opened fire on his unsuspecting schoolmates and teachers.
Just to even write those words is shattering. A child opens fire on his fellow schoolmates. Why? The state of the world today is something unfathomable. Should we even bring children into this world? We are mandated to send our children to school to be educated. Are we actually throwing them to the wolves? What parent kisses their child goodbye with the expectation that this will be the last kiss, the last smile, the last goodbye...
Those images of children running, hands up, from the schools; the sound of gunfire from the halls and shocked faces; the images of parents hugging their overwhelmed kids, feeling devastated by the deaths around them mixed with feelings of guilt and gratitude because of their joy in having their child survive. How could they even process those polar emotions at once?
The throbbing temples, aching gut and sore throat at the impending tears are coupled with the ever-increasing anger and frustration of wondering why this deadly trend keeps happening and how it can be stopped. Even with hope for the future and a heart full of faith, living in the aftermath of mass killings makes it hard for life to be business as usual. We cannot become desensitized to the extreme wrongness of these acts. We cannot continue whispering under our breath about the person who seems off-balance, but telling no one. And as in this most recent case, when students and administrators do their duty and report an unstable student, authorities cannot drop the ball and leave students and faculty exposed to danger.
Conversations are taking place at kitchen tables and water coolers about gun control and mental health. Should there also be conversations about the state of the human family? Every depraved person starts off as someone's son or daughter. What happens in life in the formative years has great bearing on who we become as we grow. What happens in these cases of racial hatred, genocide and mass murders? Where was the love, bonding and home training? Was something else lacking? Are they just wicked or were they just born bad? We all have our flaws, but we have to be taught kindness, selflessness, humilty and generosity among other positive qualities.
Something is lacking or has been warped when a person can callously cause massive loss of life with no affect. Merriam-Webster defines affect: Origin and Etymology of 'affect' Middle English, "capacity for emotion, emotion, desire, will," borrowed from Latin affectus "mental state, mood, feeling, affection," from afficere "to produce an effect on... A person is not moved in their mental capacity to have emotion or fellow feeling for others. Simply put, they just don't care. When and where did that emotional void develop?
Recently, a documentary aired about potential immigrants from Syria and Afghanistan seeking a new life in Germany or Spain. The film chronicled their journey from their wartorn land to eventual immigration or being rejected and returned home after illegally attempting to enter other lands. One man who had lost most of his family to murder and war (simply because one non-military family member had translated documents into English) asked: 'There are some seven billion people in the world; is there no one that can help me? Not one?' What a profound and heartwrenching question. Are there not enough people on earth to notice or care when another person is hurting or suffering? We grow enough food to end hunger earthwide, yet people starve. There is enough money in print for all people to have their needs met, yet mankind continues to wallow in despair. And one young man, clearly in need of counseling and intervention after losing his parents to pneumonia and heart disease, slipped through the cracks (or more directly: walked through the front doors of a high school) to become an infamous killer. There are no words...