Itdoesn’t have to be this way but it is. This is how it is. A grandmother at a grocery store. A son praying in church. A teacher reading a book to a classroom of little kids. A man with a gun.
Another day, another massacre. A morgue truck filled with dead bodies. A community gutting. A television crew reporting the same news on a loop: “a man with a gun went on a rampage.” This is just how it is.
A man with a gun is not a cowboy. He is not a hero. A man with a gun is a consumer and someone sold him a gun. This is just how it is: America is a man with a gun shooting innocent people in the back, or in the head, or chest.
It doesn’t have to be this way. Vote. Howl. March. Things can be different. But right now, this is how it is. Child-sized bodybags unzipped. Parents sick with unimaginable grief. Politicians who smile, gently, and never sweat, even when standing in the hot Texas sun. America is a man counting his money after selling a man a gun. America is good people and selfish people and empty people, like piggy banks.
I am sympathetic to those who refuse to accept what is and prefer, insist, on living life as they think it should be, or as it appears in dreams. I can’t wag my finger at those who won’t see or hear. You can if you want.
I am guilty of hiding behind ideas and words and screens. I read bad news and stuff my face with takeout until I pass out in my bed. I have never seen carnage or smelled corpses or heard the screams of the families of the victims.
But this is how it is. A man with a gun and a head full of anger and a heart full of hate. A man with a gun and a death wish. A fantasy.
America is a nation of plenty. Potato chips, toothpaste, automobiles. Bullets. But what America truly has in abundance is lies. We are rich with them. We, the people, believe in hard work and individuality, and the family. The family! We are a republic. A democracy! We have God-given rights and institutions and the rule of law. The only thing that stops a bad guy with a gun, is a good guy with a gun. These are all untruths and delusions. Flights of fancy. Lies. The fairy tales we tell about the Founding Fathers are lies. The belief that America is exceptional is a lie. The world looks at us with fear and pity.. . . . . . . .
There are many who clamor to come here and I can’t fault them, America is an amazing idea. They’ll learn. Eventually. Everyone does. America is a lie.
Our leaders lie. The media lies. The cops serve and protect but only on TV. “Thoughts and prayers” is a lie, too. A dishonest, rehearsed bit of bullshit. Have some self-respect. Don’t say “thoughts and prayers.” Say what you really mean, which is “I don’t care.”
This is how it is: the land of the free and the home of the brave is a lyric in a song that lies. This is the land of dead children and teachers and grandmothers and the home of the depraved. The lost.
A student with an afterschool job. An aunt who volunteers at an animal rescue. A doctor, overtired but dedicated to his patients. A man with a gun. A man with a gun who wants to be remembered. A man with a gun who wants to feel powerful. Who hunts the helpless. He’s not fighting tyrants. He’s not standing up to oppression. This is how it is: a man with a gun is king. A man with a gun has the right to kill. He can buy powerful weapons whenever he wants, he can freely drive to another neighborhood or state, and execute whoever he wants, a preacher, a protestor, a ten-year-old.
This is how it is. A man on social media reads the news of third and fourth graders slaughtered and immediately, instinctively, defends guns. Guns aren’t to blame, no matter what the gun wounds say. He stands up for these weapons. He can’t help himself. One day, he may want to feel powerful, too.
No, blame mental illness. Or a lack of bulletproof doors. What we really need, actually, is more guns. And if these suggestions don’t silence the critics, then the man will gnash his teeth and spit venom until the butchery is forgotten.
There have been hundreds of shootings over the last ten years ago, each a nightmare. One shooting kills a couple of people, another fifty. And they have all fallen down a bottomless mass memory hole. Goodbye.
This is how it is. It is easier to buy a gun than medicine. Food. Housing. Guns are money and power and America is ruled by Moloch. The murder of children and the elderly and young parents is the price that must be paid so that a man can buy a gun, cha-ching, bang-bang.
It doesn’t have to be that way. We can live without the fear of a neighbor or a family member or some stranger, a teenager, or a man with a gun suddenly appearing out of nowhere, like the grim reaper made flesh.
There are some who know how it is but most live in how it was or how they want it to be instead of living in the here and now when the bodies are warm and the blood is still wet. Apathy is a political choice. A man with a gun counts on it.
It doesn’t have to be this way but it is. Americans are stalking Americans of all ages and races and genders. And not enough people care. A majority do but that’s not enough. This is how it is. It’s not complicated. This is our life. This is who we are. The dead look back and judge us.