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Men and Guns and Murdered Sleep

UPDATE: A shorter version of this piece, with a somewhat different focus and some extra authority, also appears at the Baha’i Teachings website.

I can’t help myself. I have to say something about Santa Barbara, but what to say that others haven’t about a young “man” – oh, how that word is mutating like attention-deficit cancer cells – who so pathetically, so enragingly, so outrageously, so pitiably, so hatefully, so sadly and so narcissistically wore all his grievances on his electronic sleeve. Then he found, what – not courage, for God’s sake – enough petulance-gone-mad, enough entitlement-gone-toxic, enough Internet-chutzpah-gone-fatally-virulent, to spew the tantrums of a deeply spoiled child with the sick can-do of an adult, and with the cold metal of “equalizers” that would never require him to face his victims as an equal. God help the innocent. God help us all to sleep, and to keep finding hope and goodness.

The numbers are hard to gather, let alone fathom. Just in the USA, some dedicated carnage-counters in the gun-addled States (the on-line magazine Slate, for one) throw out statistics that mainly seem to numb us. “35,000 gun deaths since Sandy Hook”. “A mass shooting every five days.” “90 American gun deaths per day.” And so on. More than half of these are suicides without the murder, it appears, since guns are the American way to take arms against a sea of troubles / And by opposing end them… So yes, Hamlet, there’s that, but at a certain level of super-hero self-hatred, offing yourself just isn’t cinematic enough anymore.

But there’s more.

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I’m Not THERE, Either

Montreal again. Trench coats and young white males and guns again. School kids in terrified lockdown in classes, or running into the streets, or hitting the floor of their cafeteria. But especially, it seems that a desperately alienated and angry young man (or maybe more than one) has decided to do something about it. The something involved automatic weapons and people he probably didn’t even know. The it? God knows. But I’ll bet it has to do with uselessness, and toxic blame, and utter disassociation from lives and problems and wounds other than his own.

This time it’s Dawson College, part of Quebec’s CEGEP system of trades and university-preparatory schools. These are 16-19-year-olds in a large downtown school of more than 7000. Many of them are living away from home for the first time. How disoriented are they today?

Something about the conjunction of learning and murder, of striving youth and senseless death, is unbearable. It looks like the police took down one of these pathetic excuses for manhood, but it’s still not clear if he was alone. (He makes a fine argument for the benefits of suicide. Maybe we should have more respect for merely self-destructive behaviour among the young.)

But there is blood on the walls of another Montreal school, and stains on students and families that no pressure-hose will ever wash away. Four dead so far, they say. A dozen others in various degrees of distress. At least it’s not 14, as it was at L’École Polytechnique in 1989. So much to grieve, so much to rage against in the dying of youthful lights.