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Never Again...until it happens again


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Columbine was twenty years ago.


Virginia Tech was twelve years ago.


Newtown was six and a half years ago.


Marjory Stoneman Douglas was fifteen months ago.


UNC Charlotte was was eleven days ago.


STEM School Highlands Ranch was three days ago.


Even without mentioning what these names and dates refer to, you know. We all know the schools into which young men walked with guns and paramedics left with bodies. The incidents are distinguishable by the names of their schools, sometimes not even the entire name, but we know what happened there. 13, 32, 26, 17, 2, 1, the number of dead read like a lottery of whose number was randomly pulled from the swirling ball pit of political inactivity.


The pattern of national grief is so well practiced that it now suffers from a grim efficiency: shock, pictures of hugging parents waiting for news, balloons and letters on school steps, declarations that it will never happen again, oblivion until we are called upon to repeat the steps anew. From time to time we add in some political posturing for good measure, but quickly each side retreats to its bunker; the perceived cost of acquiescence so much higher than the cost of anonymous life. A political tourniquet that would stop the bloodshed might risk the atrophy of necessary constituencies. Besides, no one really expects change, so why risk it? Like a placebo that only acts on the mind instead of the disease, everyone says the things their side wants to hear ignoring the cancer that continues to progress unabated.


Active shooter drills have replaced fire drills, and our children’s nursery rhymes no longer teach them about eggs sitting on walls but of shooters hunting them in the hallway. As often happens in school, the students are learning the lesson we didn’t know we were teaching them: you are on your own, it is imperative that you risk your lives so that politicians are not forced to risk their careers. Kendrick Castillo learned that lesson, and so did Riley Howell. When the shooters entered their school, these young men risked everything while men much older and more powerful then they could shake their heads in dismay while risking nothing at all.


Every times this happens there are cries of “Never again.” Instead of looking for a solution to the crisis, too many are looking for the solution that will resonate with voters, while students die too young to ever join that distinguished group. Sales of bullets climb along with memberships to March for our Lives after each event, but legislation remains stalled.


There is a saying in politics, “You are either at the table or on the menu.” Those at the table have put our children on the menu.

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