Monday, October 5, 2015

more on the recent awfulness

A couple of well-worn but appropriate collections of words from John Donne and W. H. Auden:
No man is an island, entire of itself; every man is a piece of the continent, a part of the main.  If a clod be washed away by the sea, Europe is the less, as well as if a promontory were, as well as if a manor of thy friend's or of thine own were: any man's death diminishes me, because I am involved in mankind, and therefore never send to know for whom the bell tolls; it tolls for thee.

About suffering they were never wrong,
The old Masters:  how well they understood
Its human position:  how it takes place
While someone else is eating or opening a window or just walking dully along;
How, when the aged are reverently, passionately waiting
For the miraculous birth, there always must be
Children who did not specially want it to happen, skating
On a pond at the edge of the wood:
They never forgot
That even the dreadful martyrdom must run its course
Anyhow in a corner, some untidy spot
Where the dogs go on with their doggy life, and the torturer's horse
Scratches its innocent behind on a tree.

In Breughel's Icarus, for instance:  how everything turns away
Quite leisurely from the disaster; the ploughman may
Have heard the splash, the forsaken cry,
But for him it was not an important failure; the sun shone
As it had to on the white legs disappearing into the green
Water, and the expensive delicate ship that must have seen
Something amazing, a boy falling out of the sky,
Had somewhere to get to, and sailed calmly on.


So nine people from around here were murdered, and one committed suicide, just over the hill and down the river from me.  This is a smallish town, and as I predicted, I'm two degrees of separation from folks who were directly involved.  There are all sorts of media types around--when I went to town today for groceries, there was still a TV truck in the hospital parking lot, and in the 24 hours after the shooting, I got a half-dozen phone calls from all around the country asking for so-and-so, who apparently was close to the event and whose published phone number was actually mine.

People here are bent out of shape, and I am too, I suppose.  I think most of the natives are stunned because this is a small town and such things just aren't done within the family.  I guess I feel a bit of this too.  I'm also a bit wigged because I've always been weirded out by this area's gun culture, and precisely thing thing I've been scared of has happened, and will likely again.

But, given that I don't directly know anybody involved, why am I more bent out of shape by this event, more than any of the other multiple-murder shootings this year, or by any other of the over 10,000 shooting murders every year?


So while the awful event was going on, I was on my farm, not behind a Breughel's plough, but dragging bucks and does around for breeding.  The does were all in heat that day, and they could not wait.  My job, at that precise time, was to tie up a doe, then march across the field to the bucks' pasture.  I had to catch the right buck, get him through the gate without letting all the other bucks out, and hang on as he charged to the doe with all his might.  Then, after the goats had mated, I had to drag the buck, who would have preferred to stay with the does, all the way back to the buck pasture.  Doing all this for the dozen does, and allowing time for the bucks' batteries to recharge, took me over two hours.  An hour into the process, I got a text from a friend inquiring anxiously after my health.  Then another, and a call, and so on.  All the time, I was busy as could be playing pimp for our goats, and even though I would like to have just sat down to  try to absorb things, it was not going to happen.  Life on the farm ignores any drama that does not concern itself.

Thursday, October 1, 2015

Still alive

Just to say that I was not directly involved in the massacre at UCC today.  I'm sure that I am no more than two degrees of separation from somebody who was; also pretty sure that we will get new neighbors at the cemetery next to us.  In a parallel universe not too far from this, I might be teaching at a parallel UCC.

We're always told that "now is not the time to bring up gun control laws," in the aftermath of such events.  They now happen with such regularity that there never will be a time.  And so we will have more.

As I've written here before, this is what we want to happen.  I've already been told that the solution is to have more guns, to have everybody carrying a piece--this despite a lot of evidence that that's not the solution.  But I'm too heart-sick and too tired and upset to argue it.  We've decided, as a country, that we actively want there to be a shooting like this every month.  And until we do something about our national psychosis about guns--something I see a lot of here in rural Oregon--we'll get more, and we want it.