This is not a poem, but...
At least 10 people were killed as a result of a school shooting in Texas this morning. It's a tragedy, but one of the sort that seems to diminish in scope with each passing month. Ten people lost their lives in a fury of unimaginable pain and anguish, yet we seem to grow more immune by the hour. it's a mournful event over which we should weep, but it seems our hearts grow frosty and we hardly bat an eye. Because here's the thing--it's hardly news anymore. We are hardly surprised, hardly hurt, hardly affected. And this is perhaps the greatest tragedy of all.
4 victims were killed in a Tennessee Waffle House--surely now that I mention it, you recall the headlines. That was less than a month ago. The Parkland, Florida school shooting that left 17 dead was less than 2.5 months ago. The Sutherland Springs church shooting that left 26 dead was 6.5 months ago. The Las Vegas Massacre, which saw 58 people killed and over 800 injured, happened not even 8 months ago. The Pulse nightclub shooting that left 49 dead is not even 2 years old. The Charleston Church shooting, killing 9 and perpetrated by white supremacist Dylann Roof, isn't even 3 years old. The Aurora, Colorado movie theater shooting that killed 12 was almost 6 years ago, and the Sandy Hook shooting, leaving 27 dead--20 of whom were elementary schoolers--happened only months later. The Virginia Tech shooting that killed 32 was 11 years ago. Columbine, where 15 people died, will be 19 years old this coming Sunday.
We remember all the headlines, but little of the aftermath. There's too much pain and trauma involved to fully recall the mournful scenes that follow each shooting. And so we are forced to attempt to move on with our lives, thereby washing our hands of the stain of these bloody massacres. We call for reforms, then forget when our politicians move on.
Indeed, our greatest and most fearsome coping mechanism, put simply, has been to forget. We forget the anguish, the empty, hollow, now-caustic thoughts and prayers, the toothless promises of reform. We forget, and move on. On to the street, on to the next, safe in the knowledge that we tried.
It seems to me that the greatest and most lamentable tragedy of this entire conversation may not be the crime itself, but rather our reaction to it.
And so it was, then, that when I read this morning's headline about the Texas shooting, I was hardly surprised. My greatest shock was that I was not shocked. And that I was not shocked, and that you weren't either, I'll wager, might be a crime greater than all the others.
After all, those who forget the past are doomed to repeat it, no?
Until next time, then...