My heart was too heavy today to do anything more than the basic mechanical tasks of everyday life: laundry, going to the market for milk and bread, going to Target to buy the fire extinguisher i've been wanting to get for my kitchen. Somehow that last task took on the significance of a quest: a talisman -- like a St.Christopher medal or a rabbit's foot -- that would somehow make me believe myself safer in an unsafe world.
We woke up today to the horrible news that once again a gunman had opened fire on a crowd of people in a public place. This time it was a movie theater, and maybe because movie theaters are sacred spaces to me, my refuge from any and all troubles, the horror of it struck me especially hard.
We live in a violent world. There are people in cities around the globe who wake up to similar tragedies and worse on any given day, whether at the hands of suicide bombers or their own government. In my own city of Chicago, there are neighborhoods so victimized by gang violence that the mourning for little children struck down by stray bullets has become an almost commonplace story on the evening news. But for many -- probably most -- Americans, there is still the presumption of safety as we get in our cars, go to the mall, send our kids off to school or away to college, go to the movies. And when a thing like this happens, the cracks in the facade of our safe and peaceful lives are opened. We remember 9/11; we remember Columbine; we remember Virginia Tech; we remember a supermarket parking lot in Tucson, Arizona. We cry, we pray, and then we begin once more to patch over those cracks, to rationalize that the person who did this was insane rather than symptomatic, to tell ourselves that we need more guns to protect ourselves. And we forget until the next time.