Everybody but Mike in New Mexico should take off your thirsty boots and make yourself comfortable. Mike doesn't get a pass so much as he gets a mulligan since he and I went through a lot of this the other day and I got considerably more out of our exchange at that time than he did because he brought so much more to the discussion. I think if he wants to roll his eyes and walk away when he realizes the topic today that's fine with me.
Here in Connecticut we're still tiptoeing around responsibility and constitutional guarantees in the wake of the catastrophe at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut. We have only paid passing attention to the additional carnage that has followed in seven weeks since then in a variety of locations across the country.
I'm not a doctor or a law enforcement specialist but I suspect (just spitballin' here) many of us seem to think if you are shot and killed with a gun (we always say it that way, 'with a gun', as if bow and arrow murderers are running amok or people are being speared like skin-covered shishkabobs) but it didn't make the evening news in the 100 block or hit the front page of the paper above the fold, the person is, somehow, not really dead.
That's not true, of course. And we need to own that knowledge and stop waiting for some magic number on the body count meter before we agree to stop shouting and start talking about controlling the war we are waging on one another in this country. It's too late for Hadiya Pendleton.
Whatever you do, don't think a serious discussion on this vicious, little war involves exchanging polemic positions and posturing. There is no single solution and any attempt on my part or anyone else's to insist or suggest "if we just do this ONE thing" is dishonest. The problem, the murder of our children, will continue unless and until we agree the cost is too high and take steps to resolve it.
This familial tragedy is a blip on the radar of the craziness that's been chasing us around maybe since the Pilgrims (or maybe not) but definitely in the last couple of years. The story speculates Hadiya was accidentally murdered. She was collateral damage? What are her family supposed to do with that piece of solace?
Hadiya's life is over before it's begun and we were so distracted by Hour 290 of the wall to wall coverage of Sunday's Super Bowl With More Roman Numerals than We Know What to Do With (47, okay? the one with no lights for awhile in it) we're continuing to miss the Big Flick. Fifteen (XV, okay?) is NOT enough years to live and each of us must make enough difference in each other's lives so that we never have to bury fifteen year old murder victims again.
As Newtown, San Diego, Phoenix on Thursday and this sadness in Chicago and probably another thirty to forty times more today (and everyday) when people will die of violence should underscore to all of us how vulnerable each of us truly is.
Nothing is as easy as it seems nor is it as impossible as it appears. Unless and until we see each and every person behind every death and accept that each death is a preventable loss and human catastrophe not just a very sad television, this will keep happening. There are no words for the sorrow we should feel and the resolve we must now possess.
The tolling of John Donne's bell summons us to prayer and we certainly need it but it also demands we take action, together, us and them.