As America Bleeds Again, A Defining Moment (On Boston and Sandy Hook)

Up until a few hours ago, I wasn’t sure if I was going to write anything about the bombings in Boston. As some of you may know, I’ve been keeping my eye away from the trappings of the 24-hour news cycle, popping in at mostly-predetermined times for a few moments here and there in order to stay informed. I’ve allowed myself a little more time to keep up a dialogue with people on social media channels…and that’s how I heard about what happened at the marathon on Monday.

I still don’t know what to say about it. What can be said? Despite the best, noblest efforts of all who have tried (and please understand I do not begrudge anyone their right to express their feelings) – what can be said? More senseless violence. Mere months after Sandy Hook.

I am writing, anyway, for two reasons. First, I am the same as everyone else. We feel these tragedies personally, if we are at all human, and when we feel them the overwhelming rush of anguish is more than we can often handle in the moment. So we cry, and we cry out. We get angry. We try to laugh, when and where it’s appropriate.

The second reason requires more in the way of explanation.

The peculiarity of tragedies like the bombings in Boston is that, in direct contradiction to the intentions of their perpetrators, the damage done to “a few” has a swelling, rallying effect in terms of the power of the many to respond with solidarity, whatever that may mean in the end. Almost always – and this only makes the unnecessary loss that much sadder – awful days like this past Monday end up bringing people together. We mourn, we seek answers, we seek vengeance or justice, we seek an end to the pain that will eventually pass from the day-to-day but will always linger, in perpetuity, over time. A wound has been opened in Boston, just as a wound has scarred over in Newtown, as it has here in New York City, as it has in many other parts of our country throughout our history.

The unsurprising solidarity other Americans have shown in supporting Boston will go far to help heal its wound. But with sincerest apologies to the victims of this most recent tragedy, I have to admit that I do not think it will be enough.

As I wrote months ago, America is sick. These horrific acts are not coming from out of the ether, and neither, in a day and age where we have come to understand the machinations of the universe on a subatomic level – can we simply lay blame for the carnage on the corrupt element within a single, tortured soul. Say what you will about the history and existence of the soul. We know enough, on a reasonable and scientific level, to know that evil – in most cases – does not wound this world only because of an innate, mysterious, all-encompassing darkness in the hearts of individuals. Regardless, we do not live as individuals, and so we have no right to pretend that matters of such dire social import can be explained away on an individual level.

Let me be clear: no one is responsible for the deaths and injuries at the marathon except for the person or persons who planted the bombs. However, again, questions need to be asked.

Once the who has been figured out, and the why, and once the answers to both questions are found wanting in terms of offering anything more than the necessary dose of closure, we need to ask how. How could this have happened? How could we have stopped it?

Maybe there aren’t answers. Probably, though, there are some worth trying out, some ideas about the true state our society that are worth exploring and discussing, ideas that won’t heal the wounds of the past and present but can perhaps help us improve the future.

Do I know what questions to ask, this time around? I’m not sure. Definitely, I’m not sure yet. Like I said, I didn’t know if I was going to write anything about the bombings. My only reaction, up until a few hours ago, much like my reaction to Sandy Hook, was to feel pain and sadness. I did not get angry.

No. I didn’t get angry until I checked the front page of The New York Times today and saw that the gun control legislation, that had been proposed in the wake of Sandy Hook, was dead. Our elected officials, acting under the direction of entrenched, moneyed special interests, killed it.

Innocent children died, and in the wake of their death we had at least an opportunity to prevent more death. And now, mere days after more unnecessary violence and bloodshed – and I don’t care what kind of violence it is – that opportunity is gone.

We’ll have answers, immediately, at least, the next time more innocents are gunned down by a disturbed individual with a machine gun. We’ll know why and how. And we’ll know who.

Americans, this is your current United State Congress, shrinking from the moment. Predominantly, it is your Congress-held-hostage…by backwards, right-wing, aged white male Republicans who continue to make no secret of the fact that the only things that matter to them are power and money and the safety that comes with having both.

This is your Congress. Cowing to fear, and letting it all remain the same, even as The People demands progress. This is not about politics. It is about reason. And humanity. And the Republicans and Democrats who voted against gun control today failed to honor both these tenets of modern civilization at the same time they were failing every man, woman, and child who died at Sandy Hook

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