www.geoffmitchell.com

re.Actions In PA

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I’m not the most thick skinned person you’ll ever meet, but I’m not so terribly sensitive that I well up at the slightest bit of bad or sad news. But last night i wept. I’m not taking about shedding a tear, I’m talking about crying. I wish they were tears of joy over something shared between a loved one, but tragically, very tragically, they were tears of sorrow, dismay, and despair over something so horrific, even trying to write about it here is difficult to bear.

The actions that took place yesterday, at the hands of a lone gunman in a simple one-room Almish schoolhouse in Pennsylvania, are devastating to hear about. They’re devastating to imagine. They’re devastating to comprehend. And I’m in a state of disbelief.

I can’t imagine, i can’t begin to imagine, the experiences of the children, the victims, and the families. It’s almost too much to consider. I also can’t understand how something like this can happen, and worse, when turning to online resources for news, finding that a story like this falls well below a large post about some kid that dances like Michael Jackson. I kid you not. I went to Yahoo to find out more, and this story was 4 stories down on a 2nd section. You can see it here. And last night, after I was told of this by my wife, I turned to the TV and I found Ryan Seacreast and ‘The Bachelor’, driving home a painful point on just how removed we all have become.

I remember when the attacks took place on 9/11, and the media put all their attention on it. I remember they stopped commercials. I also remember that after a while it was overkill and things returned to ‘normal’; but at least, for a moment, there was a sense of unity around a tragedy.

So where is our national attention right now? Is it on this horrific event, and more importantly, figuring out what the hell happened, why, and how to prevent it? Or is it on American Idol? Where’s our ‘collective conscious’ focused when things like this occur?

In Woody Allen’s film “Radio Days”, a story evolves in which a girl had fallen into a well. Over a day or two, there’s an increased awareness amongst the family and community as to the situation, and everybody’s either involved, or standing by and very concerned. The outcome is bleak, and the family, circled around the radio, cries. It’s a very moving moment and a beautiful example of how, it seems, there was, could or should be a collective community, unity and awareness.

People die every day. From acts of violence. Every day. And not just one or two. Brace yourself…. United Nations data reports an estimated total of 12,658 murders in the US. People…. that’s an average of 45 murders a DAY! Not car accidents, not natural deaths, not darwin awards, but murders. Intentional homicides. The only countries with higher rates are India, Russia, Columbia, South America and Mexico. And the curve drops dramatically thereafter, with countries like France, Germany, the UK, Italy, Japan and more having a mere minor fraction of that number. So here we are, the supposed ‘world leaders’ and the supposedly ‘educated and evolved’ nation, and this kind of thing not only happens, but it’s happening more and more, and nobody really seems to be actively aware of it on a daily basis.

So what’s the cause? And what’s the solution? I wish that, on a daily occurrence, there were some sort of national broadcast, mandatory, in which we’d have some collective focus and updates on such things as global warming trends, violence and how to proactively seek help or prevent it, homeless issues, employment trends, and all things that would bring some focus and unity around the problems we face and might only change thorough a national awareness and effort. This is not an Orwellian vision, but a simple ‘facts and things you can do about it’ presentation; a coach between plays… a progress report… a resource guide, and a reminder to keep your eyes on the prize.

I think we’ve allowed our society to ‘cross the line’…. nay, we’ve pole vaulted numerous times, and it’s not even visible on the horizon behind us. There was a time when people had more respect for each other and for human life. There was a time when the murder scene in Psycho was considered ‘going to far’. There was a time when the most violent act in a video game involved a large gorilla knocking somebody over with a barrel. There was a time when a murder like that of ‘In Cold Blood’ was not just a subtext on a news website, but a national concern. Today, it seems that only the most dramatic and sensational murders bear reporting, and even those only hold our attention for a short period of time, and before long, we’re distracted by something bright and shiny. I’m as guilty as the next person and i’m living in a society where there’s more attention placed on what’s on the cover of a tabloid then there is on the cause and resolution to our continued decent into apathy and ignorance.

And so, for this, for the moment, for the lives of those taken so violently, and for the uncertainty of a future that will be my children’s world, I wept. And I weep.

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Written by gsm

10/03/2006 at 1:12 pm

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