I get alerts from local law enforcement, and have for a year or so. So I get texts when a shooting goes down or children are abducted in my corner of LA County. Today I saw a story about a man who dropkicked a toddler with his steel-toe boots, stuffed her face down into the sofa and left her for dead. He's arrested for murder one, of course. I am, in short, accustomed to hearing about tragic events. I'm glad to be the kind of mature man who doesn't lose his cool as I know this kind of thing happens all of the time, every day in this country and every country around the world. But I am sick to death about the obsession and symbolic outrage that has captivated so many people. I'm even tired of mocking the idiocy.
It may seem to some that because of my determination to keep a stiff upper lip about such matters, as I enjoy reading military history and thinking about how to think about death and destruction, that I have lost some measure of sensitivity to the human condition. Nothing could be further from the truth. I know what people need when death comes calling. Just this weekend there was a suicide near my wife's place of business. I know I helped her deal with it. No I'm not a psychologist, but I've been around the block and you can tell me anything. Anything. I'm that guy. And I truly, honestly want to help people make it through. That's why I am an Emergency Response volunteer and why I'll be volunteering with the local PD next month. My aim is to be skilled in that regard. Hands on.
This is precisely why all the blatheration, as much as I love a good debate, is making me irascible. It's why I'm turning some of it off. There is a limit to how much one man's death can mean and there are few things more repulsive to me, when so many people experience tragedy, than celebrity victims.
I know that it is impossible for someone like me to give any comfort to someone who is emotionally distraught about their feelings for a celebrity supermodel who alleges sexual assault by a celebrity comedian who know in what state who knows how many years ago. Impossible. All such people want to hear are Amens the specific political sentiments that motivate them. I cannot provide comfort to people who have decided to be purposeful in their discomfort. It is the big brother in me that compels me to want to shut them up and have them listen to the comfort of reason. Ragers want to rage.
Michael Brown, Eric Garner, Trayvon Martin. All are celebrity victims. Their deaths, they being human beings with one soul - equal to that of any other ever born or yet unborn all deserve their respects. It's the amount of respect one could pay in a few hours at a wake or funeral (Which I seem to be going to more and more these days). But their deaths have been celebrated as omens, and they have been made great symbols. I am weary of the minds ensnared in that dirty business. They have made a tawdry spectacle of it all with their empty gestures, hashtags and manufactured outrage.
The more dignified I want to be, the more angry I get at the indignity of this political circus. I will find a way to maintain my engagement and my peace of mind. For now, I'm changing channels.
(The picture is the grave of Marie Laveau in New Orleans to whom I'm distantly related. People leave tokens)