I was watching the Olympics with Emma Sunday morning when the story broke about the shooting in Wisconsin. I made some noise of disgust and outrage and Emma looked at me with a question in her eyes. I looked back at her and said "Again. Son of a biscuit-eater (not really but I can’t print what I really said) when is this going to end?" She wisely chose not to answer.
A little later when details about the gunman came out, she asked me why it happened. I told her I wish I knew but that I wouldn’t be surprised to find out that the shooter believed that he was somehow defending America and trying to "take it back."
"Take it back from whom?" She asked. "I don’t know, really," I replied. "There are some people that don’t like people not like them because they listen to those who get rich raising false boogie-men and what scares and saddens me the most is that he most likely believes that what he did was right and he’s not the only one out there, he’s just the most recent."
She looked over at me, my beautiful 13-year-old daughter, and said "I don’t want to live on this planet anymore because of all the stupidity."
I looked back and told her tough, she doesn’t have a choice and besides, the world needs more people like her. People that care about others. People that can accept and value our differences. People who understand how to think for themselves.
Hate and its many variations--envy, jealousy, bitterness, impotence--make the world an ugly and desolate place. It’s a difficult concept to explain to myself never mind my teens. When you hate others for no other reason but the color of their skin, or the god they worship, or whom they love, I honestly have to say that I pity you. What a dark and ugly world you must inhabit. Lonely.
Of course I don’t think I’ll ever be able to understand why someone thinks his only option is to kill perfect strangers. How someone can become filled with so much hate and despair that he can conceive of killing people he doesn’t know to make some kind of misguided point to himself and the rest of the world.
We need to have some real, serious, grown-up conversations in this country and we can’t do that until we are willing to, well, act like grown-ups.
For starters we need to have a conversation about guns that finds a middle ground between melt them all down and pry them from my cold dead hands.
We also need a conversation about mental health that finds a middle ground between depression doesn’t exist and over-medicating the human race.
Another conversation that needs to take place is one about our differences in culture and lifestyles that finds a middle ground between demonizing those differences and subsuming our individuality.
These are serious questions and they demand serious and thoughtful discussion. Preconceptions and political agendas need to be left at the door because next week, or next month, we’ll be wondering how the hell it happened again.
Besides, I’d really like Emma to stay on planet Earth.
We need her.
Barbara Mulvey-Welsh is a mother, writer and blogger raising kids and a husband in Plymouth. Check out her blog "Did I Say that Outloud" at barbaramulveywelsh.blogspot.com. Use caution when reading around the family, there is some strong language.