This December marked five years since the shooting nightmare at Newtown, the one that marked a candid realization that–regardless of where one stands politically on the issue of gun control–our society has been rendered helpless to respond and react to absurdly common emergencies involving access to high-powered weapons and mental illness.
Regardless of where one stands politically it ought to hurt your soul, burn your heart, wrench your guts to stare into the wonderfully innocent lights extinguished that day, when a disturbed 20 year-old murdered his mother and went on that rampage and invoked carnage so disturbing it reduced the President of the United States to tears.
Regardless of where one stands politically, we have to admit we’ve accomplished virtually nothing to prevent such an act from occurring once more, abandoning our American, Can-Do spirit and retreating to the defeated post of nothing can stop things like this. Only God, perhaps.
Indeed, God assigned himself the power to stop things like this but coincidentally it’s worth noting he hasn’t entirely, and perhaps that’s because far more obvious solutions–access to mental healthcare, limiting the availability of semi-automatic assault weapons to the disturbed, outlawing or restricting the availability of implements that improve semi-automatics into fully efficient murder weapons–far more obvious solutions have somehow evaded us.
Regardless of where one stands politically, whether you voted for the Ghost of the Black Man Who Tried to Rob Us of Our Guns, or whether you voted for the New, Bigly Salvation, we have been complicit in this damnation of gridlock, this frozen intercourse of progress that, let’s be clear, puts the lives of innocent people at risk every single day.
But you and me? If you’re reading this you’re likely okay for the moment, and our new patriotic conditioning has declared that to be enough. So we move on.
I’ve been working through a year in review post, something I think many of us consider as the year draws to a close and we wonder what we have done and what we have left undone. It’s been quite a year.
With that, here’s a piece of writing.
FOR THE MOMENT
Thank you, God, for sparing me the most direct tragedies,
the kinds we read about in the newspapers
around the holidays—fires, wrecks,
incomprehensible coincidences, the kind
that can only be countered by miracles.
Thank you, God, because I am not sure what I would do.
I cannot imagine putting my other children to bed
if you took one of them from me, cannot fathom
how I would leave them alone ever again, even to sleep.
I have some money, and you can take that,
you can take the house and cars and friends,
and I’d even part with seeing or hearing,
hopefully not both,
if it meant you spared innocence.
The world will take that away in due time as it is.
It will fire unknowing into something harder, blunt its
bright laughter and sharp joys.
We cannot depend
So today, I give thanks, oh Lord,
for this quiet, cold morning,
the blood-red cardinal in the dogwood tree,
our dog nosing about in the frost,
last wisps of smoke dancing from
a chimney across the street,
and all three of them warm,
tucked in their beds,
okay for the moment.