Since the news broke of the tragedy in Orlando, I haven’t known what to say. Imagine that. Me, the wordy one, at a loss. Tributes, emotional pleas, and tirades have flowed across social media and the news. I have not added any of my own thoughts, because they are a jumble in my head. Sadness, shock, horror, anger, frustration, desperation, sympathy… it’s all there. Tears come to my eyes just thinking about it, and it certainly isn’t the first time.
Last night during dinner my family and I talked about the latest updates and developments around the story. My son had read some articles and was sharing the details he had read or heard, and adding his thoughts. He is about to turn 16. That means he was a year old when 9-11 happened. That means terror attacks have been recurring events his entire life. He has grown up hearing stories about San Bernadardino, Paris, Sandy Hook, the London Bombing, the Boston Marathon Bombing, Charleston, Fort Hood, and now Orlando… the list goes on and on. When he was younger, I used to shield him from some of the news, and would try hard to come up with the “mommy way” of explaining what was happening. Now he’s old enough to absorb events and form his own opinions.
I am thankful that my son has a passion and love for his country. I am thankful that he is compassionate and sympathetic. I am thankful that he understands right from wrong, and appreciate that he gets frustrated and feels anger when bad people do bad things. I am impressed that he tries to rationally consider the various aspects of these events, tries to reason the how, the why, and the what should we do topics. I am thankful that he still sees the good in people, still believes in God, and has managed to avoid living in fear. He is not afraid to leave the house every day to go to school, even after the Sandy Hook (which is less than two hours from where we live). He steps out into the world with as much confidence as a 16-year old can muster, even when deep down I am slightly terrified to let him out of my sight every time.
The one thing that is missing with my son is shock. Because he’s never known a time when these horrifying tragedies were not happening on a regular basis. Of course, we adults have lived through wars and other acts of violence or disaster – things have never been all rosey and easy… yet this all seems different. And while we are amazed and astonished every time we wake up to hear of another despicable act of hatred, for my son and the rest of his generation, it is just another sad, scary and ugly event. There is no shock. It’s the state of the world he knows. And that’s not ok.
It’s just not ok.