64 of 66 posts on this site have been dedicated to the wonderfully intriguing sport of tennis and I fully intend to continue in that mode. But today, this Christmas of 2012, at this moment in time, I feel an unavoidable compulsion to infuse cyberspace with my words and some of my feelings about guns and the undeniable increased frequency of tragic, catastrophic events involving the use of these instruments of death.
The scope of this most recent massacre of 28 people, 27 of which were inside a Connecticut elementary school is, for me, particularly difficult to wrap my mind around. Not that past shootings of this nature have been any more comprehensible, it’s just that in this bloodbath, 20 of the victims were six and seven year old children.
That makes this carnage almost unfathomable, but only almost because it did happen and based on recent American history, it was bound to occur.
It was predictable. When, where, and to whom(s) it would happen was not foreseeable, but that it would happen, sadly, was inevitable.
Why? Guns, that’s why.
Ohhh, did I say that? Yeah, I said it and it’s exactly what I intended to say. The immediate rebuttal by gun advocates is, “Guns don’t kill, people. People kill people.”
I am so very tired of hearing that lame crap.
So, for clarification, guns are the instruments used by people to kill other people. No, the gun does not get up of it’s own volition, transport itself to a site of it’s choosing and begin randomly slaughtering humans. Humans do the transporting, site selection and finally, the murdering. But, here in America it’s most frequently done with an instrument called GUN. Therefore, in our apparently extremely unstable society, these instruments are a big, big part of the “why” these horrific acts continue to occur.
I’ll not pretend to know any of the myriad of psychological explanations for why people choose to murder innocent others. I have no expertise whatsoever that would allow me to make such judgments.
I only profess to know, that in America, mass murdering is happening and with undeniable accelerated frequency.
I know, I know…It’s happening to children in other countries with bombs, landmines and guns. I’m simply attempting to address the specific problem within the society in which I live. But I do have empathy for tragic loss of all innocent lives regardless of geographical location on this earth.
In 1984, on Superbowl Sunday, a coward with a gun changed my family’s life in ways then that I could never have imagined. My older brother was an innocent victim of a shooting. He was shot in the back. The bullet entered the upper left side, glanced off his scapula, altering it’s trajectory and came to a halt at a 47 degree angle within his spine perfectly severing the spinal cord.
An X-ray technician was the first to see the damage, a resident in the trauma center of Herman Hospital in Houston, Texas second and I was third.
The resident introduced himself, shook my hand and wordlessly held the film up above his head so that morning sunlight from a window on the east side of a hospital corridor outside of my brother Fred’s room, illuminated the film, immediately causing me to feel an intense wave of nausea. A surreal sense of terror then gave way to shock, or the other way around.
I knew instantly that Fred, my only living brother, would never walk again.
The experience was as though I was enveloped in a thick, weighty fog that was choking me. I vaguely remember the resident’s hand on my right shoulder as I looked at his face. His lips moved but it seemed minutes later that I heard, “I’m sorry.”
I’d never been sorrier, never. I thought of all the thoughts I’d had during my flight from St. Louis to Houston, of all the prayers I’d said, of all the hoping for the best. I felt it was all for naught. I had to go into that room, meet my brother’s eyes and tell him that he was paralyzed.
Fred lived as a T-10 (10th thoracic vertebrae) paraplegic for 26 very difficult years. Exceedingly difficult years for him but tortuous for our entire family.
He died February 19, 2010 of complications caused by a bullet from a gun used by a coward.
Somehow, eventually, Fred found peace with his condition. He had to in order to survive. I’ve been unable to do so, even to this day, which is undoubtedly part of why I’m writing this post on Christmas evening instead of doing joyous things associated with this season.
I could never reconcile it. I could never, as people so often advise, “Just let it go.” Though I know those words are said with good intent, they’re easy to say when it didn’t happen to you or your family.
I’m purging some, yes, but I’m also reaching to the families of all of the 20 six and seven year-old innocent children and six staff members murdered in Connecticut. I’m saying that I know a part of your pain and I share your anguish.
What has happened to those families is irreversible. There are no words comforting enough to dull the pain they feel. Life was snatched from the innocent bodies of their kids in a senselessly horrifying fashion in part because of the American obsession with guns, instruments of death.
Those parents have now outlived their children, one of the most difficult things a parent ever has to do.
The murderer also deprived them of whatever small degree of closure that may have been attainable in seeing him prosecuted for his heinous crime or maybe just having the opportunity to ask him “why, why did you kill my child?”
No, he wouldn’t allow that. He took his own life with one of his mother’s guns, maybe the same one he murdered her with.
To all of the families of those slain, my most sincere condolences. We’re all in this together. Lets not let our loved ones have died in vain.
My voice is but one, ours joined are many. The many can grow exponentially and coalesce into a unified force to stop these senseless slaughters.
I know “it’s easier said than done” but it can happen if I and you “start where we are, and do what we can.” That can mean using your voice, signing a petition, joining with others of like mind, creating your own think tank, soliciting ideas, writing your congressman and/or a host of other doable things. I’m using my blog, certainly a small forum but a forum nonetheless, to do something, to say something, something hopefully meaningful.
In this country,”There could be life without guns.” There can be life without guns…