A protective wrap keeps the newspaper dry while it’s being delivered. But how do you keep it dry while it’s being read?”—John Dumas
When the news of the Sandy Hook Elementary School tragedy broke on December 14, 2012, it shook us to the core and ever since I have attempted to absorb the enormity and implications of the growing list of shootings that have occurred in our country.
Judging by the conversations I have had recently with family members and friends, I am not alone in what can only be described as an on-going state of disbelief that all these victims have seemingly died in vain because nothing—thus far—has changed in what we do beyond paying homage to the lives lost.
News—it seeps into our pores and at times pulverizes our hearts and minds, lately the ugliness of which has fed a longtime fear; the normalcy of violent acts. The timeline of Mass shootings since Columbine are approaching what could fast be considered common occurrences; this simply cannot be the new normal, for if it is, we are living in a state of hell that would even render God void of a protective wrap.
My internal voice has been on repeat with the following message: “Don’t turn away, do not forget these emotions of outrage…be with them…do not turn away.”
I have allowed my thoughts of the children and adults whose lives were taken to leach into my marrow—parents, siblings, uncles, aunts, cousins, in-laws, friends, community members; each stripped of a loved one, the grief is palpable.
Good, bad or indifferent; when events unhinge me I need time to sift, sort, search, question…I need time to tread in the waters of uncertainty until I feel, and I mean feel at the cellular level, my myriad emotions because I know the culmination of all these deaths have left an indelible mark on my psyche.
The last time I remember feeling this forlorn was during the aftermath of September 11Th—“we will never forget…” but I can’t help feeling we have forgotten, don’t misunderstand me, we remember the terror, the violation, the lost lives, the heroes but I fear we have lost sight of all which united us.
Have we become a people who dismiss the notion that answers come when we engage in collaboration? Where is the white board that begs for all ideas to be captured without judgment? How do we collectively align ourselves for the greater good? In our impatience to make sense, in our need to move on, in our desperation to place blame, opinions have been doled out over what we should do…how on earth do we begin to heal if we lack the personal resolve to begin first with our own behavior?
It feels as if we have morphed into a culture attached to a-24/7/365-live out loud share everything you think every second you think it society—and with it—we seem to have lost one of the greatest character pillars; civility.
There simply is no making sense out of senseless killings; the unbearable gravity of loss weighs on us, lives of innocent children, teenagers and adults. But in this instance the heinousness begs us to search our souls, it requires us to feel, connect, remember, and with our memories intact, resolve to prevent future calamities.
What does the mounting number of these crimes say about us at our core? Why is it I feel as if staring out from our societal reflection is what we have cultivated; a society that has become desensitized to violence and reluctant to take steps that could help facilitate measurable change?
Lately I have been machinating over what’s missing in the seemingly endless conversations:
Missing is civility. Missing is human decency. Missing is manhood.
How do we move toward healing? How do we find the strength and resolve to face ourselves and each other? Civil discourse perhaps has never been more important. Every key stoke that takes us away from basic human grace contributes to a future lacking empathy. Every film, advertisement and story where people, regardless of gender, are objectified serves to dehumanize and desensitize us and the more we consume it? The more whittled down our hearts and minds become. As if somehow we lack responsibility in our own undoing, I hear people ask, “Where is God in all of this?”
Perhaps a return to civility is a way to find a piece of God in each of us, one that embodies benevolence, compassion, empathy and love.