Miscellaneous Mental Musings of an Emerging Artist
The numbers are horrifying and yet they are still somehow inadequate in terms of helping us internalize the scope of what we have allowed to happen to ourselves.
A mass shooting is defined for purposes of FBI classification as four people killed in a single location during a short duration of time, and even this number is arbitrary, decided upon simply because it had become enough of a problem that it required some kind of metric. When only three people die it is not listed as a mass shooting. If one of the four was the shooter is it is not a mass shooting. If nobody dies but 20 people are wounded it is not listed as a mass shooting.
The numbers of dead and injured tell the story of a capsule moment in time; that moment being the shooting incident itself. It may but does not always expand to include those who might not have succumbed to their wounds for several weeks. Our media sporadically checks back in to tell us, deciding to sometimes share with us the story of triumph when somebody finally stands and walks out of the hospital on their own power but only rarely letting us know when the injuries ultimately proved too severe to sustain.
The numbers leave out the people who are affected in unseen, hard-to-measure ways by each incident. We cannot know who dulls their pain and trauma by turning to drug abuse, whose nightmares inexorably push them into depression and suicide, whether or not they suffered physical wounds during the attack itself. We do not count in these numbers the families of the victims; we do not take stock of the cost that occurs not only to have lost a loved one but also to have to suffer ancillary attacks, included but not limited to online harassment from nutcases who insist that such tragedies are designed to restrict their personal passions and the enervating frustration of watching a politician speak empty words while pocketing millions in firearm industry cash.
The numbers cannot tell us how many people stopped going to the movies after Aurora. The numbers cannot tell us how many people stopped going to dance clubs after Pulse, or outdoor music concerts after Las Vegas. The numbers cannot come close to measuring how much in both potential and actual that we lose as a society every hour that we continue to exist in this paradigm.
The numbers are the best we have when it comes to this and the numbers fail us when it comes to this, and I’d rather zero be the goal for how often this happens in America than the amount we’re willing to do about it.