So the news, when I finally saw it, hit me like ice down the back of my shirt. It was a rapid return to reality.
I was shocked, but not surprised. Mass shootings in America aren’t surprising anymore. The shock we feel is evidence of our humanity: of our compassion and of our fear. We are struck, forcibly, by the pain of the loss of so many lives, and by the reminder of our own vulnerability. We are both heartbroken and afraid.
But we aren’t surprised — or at least, we shouldn’t be. Massacres by men with guns are nothing new. Anyone who can still view a mass shooting as something extraordinary, as an isolated tragedy, is deluding themselves. We have become a society in which we can expect to have to conjure up “our thoughts and prayers for the victims and their families” again and again and again.
Mass shootings are not surprising, and we should be mad as hell about that. We should be mad as hell that nothing is changing. We should be mad as hell that political posturing and pissing contests have taken over the national stage, shoving any real efforts to make common sense changes into a corner sideshow.
We should be mad as hell that every time a shooting occurs we shout “enough!” at the top of our voices and it still doesn’t make a difference. That we still don’t know when enough really will be enough — it wasn’t enough when a group of schoolchildren were killed, and it wasn’t enough when a group of men and women praying in church were killed.
I’m mad about all these things, but mostly I’m mad — furious, really– at how impotent I feel. I’m mad that I can’t protect my children, that I can’t expect them to be safe at school, or at the mall, or at church, or in a movie theater. And I’m mad that I can’t conjure up hope of anything changing for the better along with my thoughts and prayers.
Those thoughts and prayers feel pitiful in comparison with the magnitude of what happened in Orlando and is happening everywhere in our country. But right now they, along with my grief and my anger, are with those whose lives were taken, their families, and the LGBTQ community who, even in this so-called liberal society, continue to be marginalized and victimized.