The Mayan calendar says that at 6:11am EST, the world will come to an end. So, I guess it’s time to write something down. Not that anyone would read it if total annihilation is expected. It’s also thought to mark the beginning of a new era. I think back on the events of this week, in nearby Connecticut. I immediately felt as though this was a new 9-11; one perhaps to more profoundly change our lives than the one before.
Last time we felt that the big bad guys from foreign countries with weapons of mass destruction were seeking to take down our tallest, most solid institutions, impacting thousands at a time, if not millions. This time it is a singular disturbed young man taking down 20 small children in their classrooms with 6 women teachers as their only line of defense and warning. The innocence and loss of it is staggering. For those of us with young children; for those with grandchildren; for those hoping to have children; for those who once were children. Yes, for us all. While the stark terror of planes flying into buildings first brought anger and rage out in us, this is different. We bend over and cringe with the pain in our hearts, and tears come many days later as we watch funerals back to back in an idyllic New England town.
There is no mass of people in a city setting, no smell of burning metal and grey soot that won’t come off your shoes. This time there are holiday lights and candles, beautiful white houses with columns and pristine lawns. Families of means and education. The evil one was not a terrorist or a villain. He was not deprived or abused. He was a young man with grave mental illness whose mother seemed to be trying to do everything she could over his lifetime to keep him safe – except for the guns. Except for the guns. A tragic lapse of judgement in a transparency of trust in her child – I’m sure it never crossed her mind that he would be capable of using a gun against others, against children, much less to shoot her dead.
We have a mission now. It is not a hard to identify foreign entity in a faraway land. It is here, in our living rooms, in our neighbors’ homes, and in our closest communities. Weapons. So many out there that stopping them now might make very little difference. I did hear that the ammunition supply is only 3-4 years out, so that might be a way to stop the arming of America. Mental Illness. Our systems have been torn apart, dismantled. We have deinstitutionalized our seriously ill to group homes and many times to the streets, and more so to our prisons. The new ones who are coming along, the 20 and 30 somethings – and the veterans with PTSD and horrible memories – what of them? How do we treat them? We don’t even know how anymore. We don’t have enough experience with psychotropic medications to know what works anymore. There aren’t clinicians who are trained in this, or not enough.
Video games and movies. Right at our finger tips we have access to violent scenes that defy anything we could imagine. The other day I was watching a prime time television show, Castle. The opening is always of a murder scene. This one was a rich woman murdered and broken and stuffed into a small wall safe. Her body hung out and they wondered how many bones had to be broken to have gotten her in there. Her ring finger missing. My senses reeled from the image I did not expect, nor did I welcome into my home. I can’t get it out of my mind. It was startling. And the interesting thing is that it is mild on the scale of what is found in movies and video games we passively hand off to our children to watch, hour upon hour, day upon day. The instant babysitter becomes addiction in short time, and then what do we do? We are a tired society. We work too hard, are home too little, with families no longer intact. We don’t have time or energy to do what we know we must.
But now. We have our new 9-11. We must deal with the plethora of weapons and violence. The horrors that mask as creativity in the film, television, books, and video world. We must lock our school doors and talk about protection for our little ones. We must address mental illness among our young, and heaven knows we must address it after the age of 18, when the systems, as inadequate as they are, completely fall away.
So, tomorrow is supposed to be the mark of a new world order – or the Apocalypse, take your pick. Were the Mayans off by a few days? Did we not visit this whole new world a few days ago? I know I did. And I know I’m forever changed. So bring on 6:11am EST tomorrow, it surely can’t be as bad as a week ago. What will our new world order be? We have a chance to make it so. The talk is everyone. We have a leader in our president, and in others. Let’s not lose momentum. Until the next time, and the next time, and the next, for surely those times will come…