“Public rage today is impotent; it has no mechanism to produce consequences.”
Glenn Greenwald, With Liberty And Justice For Some, Picador, New York, N.Y., 2011, p. 152.
Richard Martinez, the father of mass shooting victim Christopher Michaels-Martinez, speaks to the media on Saturday. Photograph: Michael Nelson/EPA
It saddens us to see the outrage of the father of one of the victims. A victim of the most recent killings in California. An image falling on eyes with short memories. Unfortunately, we don’t share his outrage for long, if at all.
We are not reminded of his permanent emptiness on a daily basis. The empty bedroom; the bed not slept in; the bicycle leaning against the garage wall; the toys no longer strewn all over the living room floor.
It’s when the victim is a family member or friend that we express our outrage. Then we feel the anguish, the sorrow, and the daily reminders of loss.
We showed our outrage over the killings at Sandy Hook. Yet,the horror of Sandy Hook was not strong enough to produce a sustained dialog. Those thoughts were quickly replaced by the joys of our own Christmas experience. Soon the faces were forgotten. The families eventually tried to move on. Some started campaigns to stop the senseless violence, but not many supported the effort to curb the killing that has become an everyday occurrence.
Few people care. We are too embarrassed to show our outrage; too politically correct; too afraid to express our deepest feeling; too insensitive to share in the emotions.
We are a nation of people who don’t care. Unless it happens to us, our family, our friend, our neighbor; we don’t care. We have insulated ourselves. The constant barrage of death and despair in the media acts as an insulator. Once we get tired of it, we turn it off, move on, and forget.
The anger and raw emotion demonstrated by the father of a victim may open the wounds of those that have shared his experience, but, in fact, his passionate expression of anguish will quickly be forgotten. Just as those faces from Columbine, Aurora, and Sandy Hook. Images that have faded and been forgotten. Their sadness and outrage are forgotten until the next tragedy.
We are confident that the mainstream media will remind us of the next tragedy in infinite detail.
The next time you walk past your kid’s bedroom and see it a mess, smile and be grateful the child will be safe asleep there tonight. The next time you find the bicycle in the middle of the driveway, get out of your car and move it. Be grateful it’s rider is safe inside the home. Show your love and gratitude, not your anger.
Share Richard Martinez’s sorrow for a moment and be thankful it is not you. Be filled with hope that your loved one will not be the next victim of the senseless wave of violence. Then, turn off the thought like the TV, and move on.
We forget because we are helpless.