Today I think of Brother Francis from A Canticle for Liebowitz. He thrives and achieves greatness during a snail-paced life rife with futility, only be eaten by highwaymen who put an arrow between his eyes.
A bus can mow you down at any moment. You can be killed by a train derailment. You could fall off your chair, never to rise again.
Life is filled with unending life-ending uncertainty. All the buzzing and pollen gathering, making all that wax and honey, being a good worker bee, doing your part for as long (or short) as you live.
Then, bangbangbangbang on and on for a 10 minute eternity. 50-odd people shot, 30-odd dead.
Some of the agitators demand weapons bans. Others demand weapons for students.
Was he high on drugs? Or low on pharmaceuticals?
Why did the school not lock down after the first assault?
Where were the police? Where was the killer. WHO was the killer? How could this happen?
"Chris, can you tell us what it was like in the classroom when the gunman came in and shot your German professor?"
The press demands answers. THE PEOPLE WANT TO KNOW!
But that's not true. The people don't want to know.
For as much pleasure as this nation seems to derive from bloody spectacle television, I really believe there comes a time when people don't want to hear about it anymore. When they stop reading, stop listening and start thinking.
All of the papers I will read tomorrow, the Times-Herald Record, the Poughkeepsie Journal, the Financial Times, the NY Times, and the Daily News will SCREAM the headline 31 DEAD as though it's the first time I will have heard that news.
But they will be carrying news I don't want to hear about anymore. I know everything I need to know right now, thanks.
Once I heard "man shoots 50, killing 31, self; constable blunders", anyway.
We all need a moment to pause and absorb the magnitude of what has happened, to create our own inner space for something as large as the knowledge that 62 parents will go to bed tonight having defied nature by living longer than their children. With no good reason in the world.
No news show will give taxonomy to the madness of this kind of killer. No news-reader will give insight worth seeing.
Hug your babies, and be grateful they're safe and well. Say a prayer for the families who aren't so lucky. Turn off the TV and go to bed.