On Wednesday just before lunchtime, somebody drove across my path in the middle of a roundabout (I had right of way). I barely had time to slam on my brakes before crashing with a sickening thud into the side of her car. It was like slow motion, I could see it coming and there was absolutely nothing I could do to avoid her.
Neither of us injured thankfully, and yes it could have been worse, but…I’ve had my shiny new car for less than three months…
As it is, my blogging commitments have gone by the wayside these past couple of weeks for myriad reasons, but frustrating, time-sucking dealings with insurance companies and repair centres have set me back further still. Please bear with me…
Not all for bad reasons though: one bright spark, or should I say three in the form of cake sparklers, was celebrating my middle son’s birthday in Brighton last weekend. Eldest Son took this happy photo:
But then I think this world has gone crazy. So crazy.
Another tragic shooting, this time in San Bernardino, California. And once again in the aftermath we are left to ask: Why?
I remember the day of the Columbine shootings, images etched on my mind as with a sharp knife. Eldest Son was sixteen. He walked home from school as normal, said Hi and headed straight for his room, anxious to check on his pet rat Blue who sadly had a tumour.
His father was home that day and together we sat glued to the television screen watching the live news unfold, of terrified high school students pouring out from their once safe school as police officers with firearms helped usher them away. Away from their dead and dying friends left inside.
“Blue died,” my son said as he walked back into the living room. I turned away from the TV and saw a tear slide down his cheek. I got up and walked over to him and hugged him and then looked down at the small, lifeless body of his pet rat resting in the palms of his gentle hands.
“I’m so sorry sweetheart, we’ll find a good place to bury her in the back…”
My son looked up then at the TV, wondering what his father was so engrossed in. “There’s been a school shooting in Colorado, lots of kids killed,” he said without turning around.
That day on April 20, 1999 changed us forever. After that, a police officer (already armed), patrolled my son’s high school every day which made me feel somewhat safer. But a new kind of fear wormed its way into our family’s heart that day, as it did for millions of others.
There had been one or two school shootings before and those were bad enough, horrifying that kids could actually take guns and shoot other kids. But the Columbine shootings ushered us into a new era, one that filled our collective psyche with trauma and fear for our children’s safety. After all, we asked, if they aren’t safe at school from their peers, where are they safe?
In all the school shootings that have happened since, the question still goes unanswered: what made these young men commit such appalling crimes? We try to find answers so we blame violent video games; bullying; family break ups; drugs; alcohol; Asperger’s Syndrome; antidepressants; the internet; heavy metal music; black tee-shirts; girl problems. And Marylin Manson.
But what about the sickness that lies at the heart of our society that brings these young people to this murderous point of no return? How can we cure that? And how do we stop them from getting hold of weapons that are used for one thing and one thing only: killing people.
9/11 hadn’t happened when Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold walked into their school heavily armed with their own weapons of mass destruction. The world is a different place since they had their day and their deaths and that of thirteen others.
It seems now that barely a few weeks or even days go by without news of yet another attack on innocent people in America be it in churches and cinemas, office buildings and Planned Parenthood, schools and universities.
The aftershocks of 9/11 continue to rumble, exploding into carnage in hot spots throughout the world as recently as Beirut, Turkey and Paris, in street markets and cafes, bars and beaches, not forgetting the thirty British holidaymakers cruelly slaughtered while sunbathing in blissful relaxation on a beach in Tunisia.
My friend Ste J questions a certain silence no matter what our religion or beliefs in his excellent post written just days before the San Bernardino shootings.
The motives behind these attacks might be different, but the end results are the same: untold human suffering thanks to someone else’s final solution.
How do we protect our children from this madness? What do we tell our loved ones when we are afraid and unable to answer our own questions? We know there are no guarantees in life. But we also know that we can’t let this madness destroy us. We fight back one day at a time, one heart at a time, one life at a time and we don’t give up.
And then I watched the video clip below posted by Luanne on her blog and who I thank so much friend for sharing. Made in the aftermath of the Paris attacks, though tragic that it should have been made at all, it exudes heart-melting tenderness between a father and his son and of the redemptive power of love and trust and promise and innocence. It made me weep:
Maybe it is in this little boy’s smile at the end as he looks up at his father, his worries visibly easing, that helps us draw something hopeful and pure back into our hearts and breathe a little easier knowing that we and our children will make it. We have to.