Miscellaneous Mental Musings of an Emerging Artist
Yesterday our local high school went into full lockdown and three nearby elementary and middle schools into soft lockdown due to the presence of firearms in the building. It was not, thankfully, an active shooter situation — a group of students were caught smoking weed in the bathroom, and when confronted the administrators discovered that two of them were carrying loaded weapons for unknown reasons.
Somewhere in the wild social frontier of TikTok, a viral meme has allegedly declared today “National Shoot Up Your School Day,” prompting superintendents everywhere to send home letters of reassurance that there have been no specific threats made, and request concessions such as having students forgo backpacks. Several parents will, no doubt, simply keep their children home if they can, especially after knowing that the shooting at Oxford High School was preceded by online threats. It’s also entirely possible that the meme never even occurred, but the suggestion that the meme might have occurred was enough to generate alarm.
I do not truly expect a rampant series of shootings today. This is most likely another numbskull attempt at pitch-black humor along the lines of quipping that your air travel carry-on is full of explosives.
I also know what the law of averages dictates: If the message has been distributed widely enough someone, somewhere, is going to try something in a vainglorious desire to make themselves Known. Previous viral challenges to vandalize school bathrooms and punch teachers and walk across stacked milk crates and ingest spoonfuls of cinnamon or individual packets of laundry detergent were met with relatively marginal participation, but “relatively marginal” is not “zero.”
Every nation has adolescents, and every nation’s collective of adolescents will include those who commit foolhardy, possibly dangerous acts. Some of those will not survive the misadventure; others will survive and be wiser for the experience while others may survive but fail to internalize the lesson. This is normal for nearly every species of animal: The young will make mistakes.
Ours, however, is a nation that encourages the young to make mistakes with deadly weapons. Because ours is a nation that remains arrested in its own type of reckless adolescence, of the kind that fails to internalize lessons like maybe let’s not treat guns like toys or maybe vaccines are sound science that prevent widespread death and anguish or maybe the increasing occurrences of deadly hurricanes, tornadoes, blizzards, and wildfires have something to do with climate change. We are addicted to a nebulous concept of individual freedom at the expense of collective safety, assuming that we are invincible as we down the last can in the case of Old Style and roar out onto the highway in a clanking Miata. We hear that there’s a new freedom on the market that’s so potent it kills half of its users and we go fiending for it, not caring who else gets hurt in the hunt.
I’m very tired.
I feel very powerless.
I’m going to do my best to get on with my day without thinking too much about the boulder I’ve been asked to push up this hill.