pWdumaNjA-6CEEBhRoD5euxNETs When All This Actual Life Played Out: Grief is not a photo op

15 December 2012

Grief is not a photo op

You read the names, and they sound like any group of elementary school children. Names in a holiday program, a class list. The names are remarkably similar to the those of the children who went to school with my own, the kids for whom I'd plan holiday parties, or place Scholastic book orders. The names of the teachers and administrators are eerily like those of the people in whose classes I volunteered.

In this case, however, it's a list of the dead.

Like many in the US right now, I'm furiously angry and absolutely grief-stricken. My children...are fine. Thank you, they are fine. The son is in the midst of his first university final exams and the daughter's school broke for the winter holidays yesterday. So, my life is moving along on its usual December path, and my children are fine. For which I'm endlessly grateful. But I grieve for the parents who lost their little ones yesterday. Last week. Last month. Ten years ago. For anyone who lost someone they love to the same sort of really incomprehensible and absolutely senseless violence that took the lives of students and teachers yesterday. As I tried to explain to my own offspring, parenthood changed something in me, something fundamental, and while I can't for a moment comprehend the horror the parents in Connecticut are living with at this moment, my whole being aches for them. Because I can't comprehend what has happened to them.

And yes, furious, too. Furious mainly with the media. I am furious with ALL the major news outlets for racing to report erroneous information, including implicating a man who had nothing to do with yesterday's crime. I am furious with every photographer who poked a lens at terrified children and adults, and who had the unmitigated gall to feed off the blood of children to get to the agony of their parents. Every single one of you should be deeply ashamed. Believe me, I'm ashamed that we breathe the same air. There is no justification for any of the media circus that has surrounded this tragedy.

Then there is the whole gun thing. Yup, people with guns kill people, people with knives kill people, people with baseball bats and tire irons kill people, and people kill people with their bare hands. It is time and past time to take a serious look at how guns are treated in this country, assuredly. But more to the point, it is time to take a long, hard look at the culture of violence in this country, the incivility with which so many treat each other. And it's also time to revisit the idea of civil rights and exactly whose rights are routinely violated and who has given up those rights altogether. Spare me the rhetoric; it's time to face the nightmare that's been created head on.

And taking photos of the grief-stricken? Not checking your facts so you can scoop someone else? My God. You are the lowest of the low.

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