I am sorry if some of my recent columns have focused on life’s final accounting. If it makes you feel any better, I am painfully aware of it. Nonetheless, I am compelled to share with you, dear reader, that which is topical and my soul’s reaction to it. It is the blessing and the curse of opinion writing.
You might take heart, indeed I hope you will, from my perspective that it is the very uncertain and capricious nature of ones short life that drives my love and appreciation of it.
The weekend began with the news that 12 people lay dead and more than 50 were injured at the hands of a berserk gunmen, so filled with selfish, no doubt pathological, anger that he was willing to pleasure himself through the deaths of innocent people. What is it about violence, particularly gun violence, that palliates a male ego devoid of self esteem? What is so cool about the brandishing of a pistol, ironically and so appropriately stupidly, sideways, that paints the picture the self portrait of the gang-banger as hard, masculine and hip-hop bankable?
Why didn’t James Holmes sign up for boxing classes, or learn to do stand up comedy, two relatively docile and socially acceptable ways of dealing with demons, even if they express themselves in psychotic fantasies? To some extent, our mental demons, like are dreams, are the subjects of what we know and see every day. The values and benchmarks we learn are those that become skewed when our more sober faculties desert us. So why then choose violence; more to the point, why choose violence with a gun?
As I tried to digest the above, a Sunday story broke out of the Bronx…you will forgive me…no surprise there. A four year old child was killed by a stray bullet, the result of an argument over a basketball game. Yes, basketball, a sport that has replaced religion and education in some communities.
Yes, it is a wonderful sport and a lucrative ticket out of Dodge for the very few. But it is also a pot of fool’s gold for the masses of aspiring athletes who wait for the ship that will never sail. That little diversion courtesy of my own youthful obsession with making a sport more important than the things that really mattered.
Alas, basketball is not the villain here. The American fascination and elevation of violence is. From the star spangled banner, which has bombs bursting in air and the home of the brave as two of its cornerstones, to our love of violent games and movies, we are just a little too proud of being the toughest kid on the block. It soothes egos, cures impotence, gets the girls and makes people dead.
Now before you go off saying I don’t sing the national anthem…which I do; or hate America...which I don’t, remember that it is best to look at ones own quirks, and those of loved ones, in the eye. Well, I Just did, and I say it is killing some of us.
And as if it wasn’t enough to say that life is filled with illness and accident sufficient to make us wonder and pledge not to kill one another, comes word of the boat accident on the sound. One of New Rochelle’s bravest, Keith Morris, is dead.
Twelve people watching a movie, a little boy playing in the park, and a man out on his boat; there was no Monday for them.
Food for thought.