An Escape

19 Dec

I was going to write about guns. Again. I very much dislike guns, as I pointed out after the Colorado and Jovan Belcher shootings. Read those and you will understand my thoughts regarding firearms. I hope at some point in the near future to address guns not in response to them being used on a group of innocent people but in a more measured and logical manner. Like with no cussing.

My initial reaction upon hearing about Sandy Hook was to take to social media and rant against guns, the NRA, Ted Fucking Nugent (which is how I will henceforth be referring to him), gun nuts, and gun culture. I also railed against a President I generally like despite the fact that he has done squat to try to reduce the threats gun pose.

I was angry. I was, like many others, inconsolable. I had seen the aftermaths of many of these things play out on TV, but this one was exponentially worse.

The shooting in Colorado touched me personally because it happened in my sacred secular temple – the movie theater. There, a man entered the one place I go to escape from the brutality of real life, and he forever profaned it.

I have now written four paragraphs that have all skirted the issue. I did not understand going in how hard this would be, even though that is what this article is about. A man murdered twenty children. He shot them multiple times. The act of putting that on paper, those words – murdered twenty children – is no easy task.  

Our minds – our very human, very emotional, mostly empathetic minds – cannot understand this. They cannot understand why someone would do this. My mind cannot understand this to such a degree that even typing the words that describe it is a struggle.

On 9/11, when I heard that someone had flown planes into the World Trade Center, my first reaction was it must be that bin Laden fella Clinton tried to kill a few years before. I assumed this because I generally follow what is going on in the world and understand that there are people out there who claim to have legitimate gripes with the U.S., and by gripes I mean they want to kill us. Even though 9/11 was a sick, evil act, I sort of understood the motivation behind it.

I even understood Columbine. Believe me, I was one of the less popular kids in high school, always on the outside looking in. Even though I may have been a bit spazzy, I was never so far gone as to want to hurt someone else. Still, there has always been part of me that understands the torment, loneliness, and desperation that can assault the marginalized teenager.

I even understood the weird cosplay/slaughter that happened in Aurora earlier this year. The guy turned himself into a Villain, a storybook character. It was weird, but I got it.

As a writer, I feel like it is my duty to “get things,” to understand why people act like they do. When I watch a movie and a character does something without a proper motivation, it always stands out to me. Even in my own writing, the one mistake I hate the most is having a character act in a way that betrays literary thermodynamics.

This shooting I don’t get. And I don’t want to get it. To me, in some ways, it is almost as bad as 9/11. True, there were more people killed during that attack. But these were 6 and 7 year old kids. It is unfathomable. Maybe it is actually worse than 9/11.


I don’t believe in God. I consider myself an agnostic. Recently someone I know described himself as a mystical agnostic, which might be a better description of who I really am. I’ve never fully understood the idea of religion besides it being used to control people. I can’t stand the idea of prayer without action. And while most people I know who are even moderately religious, are tolerant, kind, generous, and overall good people, it’s always the crazies and the assholes who stand out.

But over the past few days I began to understand why people turn to God in their times of trouble, especially times which are as unfathomable as these. The basic idea of most religions is believing in something without any proof that it exists, an acceptance that the world is a mystery to us, but that there is an order to it that we cannot understand. Because if there is an order and a purpose, things like mass gun shootings of children make a bit more sense. Or something like that, as I said, I parted ways with God and his mysterious ways many years ago.

Many of us who are not particularly God-fearing got angry and political. We blamed the NRA and the gun lobby in general. And while I do blame them, as well as cowardly politicians, this very specific event goes beyond a simple rant against guns. Or our mental health system. Or violent movies and video games. Or any of the other reasons people are using to explain what happened.

There is no explanation to this one. That is what we cannot understand, that is what we refuse to accept. We can lay blame at many places where blame is deserved. But none of it actually explains what happened that day. Our rational, civilized minds are not built to grasp something like this. That’s why we turn to comfort (religion, beer), anger (Ted Fucking Nugent, whiskey), or – like many I know – away from it all together (tequila).

Some will say that I am skirting the issues. That there are real, tangible cause-and-effect aspects to this tragedy. That harping on the mysterious unfathomableness of this rather than analyzing and deconstructing the whys and wherefores is pointless. Hell, I’m saying that to myself right now as I type this.

But here’s the thing: I don’t want to deconstruct and reduce what happened in Newtown to talking points, policy issues, and debating topics. I do not want to find a reason for this to have happened. If I do find a reason, if I can lay out a series of events that culminated in Friday’s shooting, I give the event a sanity that I don’t wish to bestow upon it.

I don’t want to get it. I don’t want to know why. It’s like watching the video in The Ring: once you do, you’re pretty much fucked.

Over the past few days I’ve seen explanations given by Not Morgan Freeman, and a woman who tried to claim that her son is as batshit crazy as the shooter. I’ve seen stats and graphs showing that countries that have banned assault weapons have had a marked decrease in these kind of shooting sprees. I’ve read anti-gun speeches by some surprising people, and surprisingly inappropriate responses from others. I’ve heard politicians make speeches. And I’ve seen a gazillion Life is Totally Fucking Awesome and Even People in Newtown are Smiling and of course, fucking cats. Thanks Buzzfead, your journalistic cred is firmly established in my book.

Fuck all that. None of it makes any of this better. A bill will be sponsored and maybe pass that will perhaps prevent one of these things from happening again. Still doesn’t make any of this better.

Nothing makes this better. No condolences. No words of wisdom. No biblical passages. No soothing Presidential sermons. No future laws.

Because we have looked into the pit of hell, and what we have seen will never be erased. No matter what you try to do to move on, part of you will always linger upon this horror.

We will try to move on. Because we need to live our lives. We are not mystics or priests. We need to move away from what is eternally mysterious, unfathomable, and abhorrent and latch onto something that is tangible, and Internet-cat cute. Because in the wake of this, we cannot exist in a vacuum of despair. We need something to keep us going.

You can read fake quotes by Nelson Mandela telling us that we should not despair. Or you can text your kids that you love them. Or keep the victims and families in your thoughts and prayers, whatever the hell that means. Or write your Congressman. Or rant on Twitter about the NRA. Or turn off the TV and pretend nothing actually happened.

Personally, I’ll write a few hundred words that a handful of people will read, listen to the Rage Against The Machine, drink half a bottle of Knob Creek, and sleep diagonal in my bed. Escape is as escape does.

Tomorrow I will keep on keeping on, no matter how much that may suck.

















Okay, I give up. Here’s your fucking feel good video.

You happy now?

Trackbacks and Pingbacks

  1. One Week Out | Vespucciland - January 14, 2015

    […] a day or so I contemplated as the title of my next post. I am good at knee jerk reactions. Here’s my post five days after the shooting in Sandy Hook two years ago. And here’s a far superior take […]

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