Friday, October 02, 2015

It's a beautiful day in this neighborhood ... not!

I woke up in the early hours of the morning as I always do.
I made myself coffee and breakfast, and had them while reading the paper, as I always do.
Yet another morning, and yet another day.
For me.

But, it is not yet another morning and yet another day a few miles down the road from me in a town called Roseburg.
A gunman killed nine people and injured seven others during a shooting rampage at Umpqua Community College on Thursday morning, shocking residents statewide and drawing the eyes of the nation to the stunned rural community.
For me, this is merely yet another morning.  But there in Roseburg, and to the families of the nine who died, this is the first morning of the many that they will have to face with heavy hearts and with tears on their faces.

When a death happens within our immediate circles, it is one of the most devastating events of our lives.  "When you lose someone very close to you, the very fabric of your life is ripped to shreds."  When it happens to a neighbor, we feel the death for a few minutes perhaps.  When it is in a town over, maybe it is fodder for conversation.  When people die unnatural deaths in a Syria or Iraq, we merely shrug our shoulders and go on with our lives.

Such is life and such is human behavior!

Ironically, yesterday began remarkably optimistically.  I scanned the New York Times, as I always do, and read Nicholas Kristof's column.  Ever since I came to know about Kristof's Oregon connections, I have a special warm, soft, corner for him.   His column was celebrating the most important thing in the world that we do not talk about enough: "a stunning decline in poverty, illiteracy and disease."

I was pleasantly shocked.  After all, Kristof usually writes columns that are depressing to read--they are about prostitution in Cambodia, or fistula in Congo, or the stoning of women in Pakistan, or ... Even he acknowledged that in his column with "You’re wondering what I’ve been smoking!"

I then tweeted about that column:
Soon, I was getting email updates about that tweet--all because Kristof had re-tweeted it.

That's how yesterday began.  I then went to the classroom to engage with students for two hours.  I came back and checked the news feed.  The day was no longer yet another day.

By then it was already the second of October in the old country.  It was the birth anniversary of Gandhi, who lived preaching and practicing non-violence.  But then his life, too, was ended by a bullet, as were the lives of the nine in a town a few miles south of where I live.

This too shall pass.  Many more will die unnatural and violent deaths.  We won't really care about them unless it happens to one of our own.  Such is life and such is human behavior!


Ramesh said...

When I read about the Umpqua shooting, I knew it was close to you and you would be disturbed even more. Proximity to a disaster makes us feel it more. I had hoped that you would yell at the NRA spokesman Andrew Arulanandam (with a name like that there has to be a Tamil connection).

I really cannot understand your fellow countrymen's obsession with guns. Time and again a tragedy like this happens and nobody seems to care about the blindingly obvious reason it happens.

Anne in Salem said...

Entirely unfathomable.

Stricter gun laws are not the answer. This guy would have found a way to get his hardware regardless of laws and restrictions. Conversely, if a student or faculty member were carrying, perhaps only two (the first victim and the shooter) would have died and fewer injured. Impossible to know.

Sriram Khé said...

So, there, Ramesh, from Anne's comments you now know why we have not done any damn thing in this country over the past few decades of gun violence. Keep in mind that mass-shootings like this are only one type of gun-related violence. Homicides with guns are in plenty.
The thou-shall-not anything about guns lobby is so strong that a recent nomination for the Surgeon General was blocked only because he dared to state that guns and violence are a serious public health issue!

Over my years here in the US, I have come to understand that this insanity is not even worth blogging about. Which is why I didn't mention anything about the NRA, and kept it focused on us humans who are way screwed up.

The NRA has become as powerful as Grover Norquist and his ilk are. Often the two groups have the same membership too.

When I first heard the news, my immediate thought was, "I hope it is not a Muslim or a black guy." Because, if that were the case, then the political groups associated with the NRA would have .... oh well, you know how that story would have unfolded :(

Finally, this will interest Ramesh and will elate Anne:

The ‪shooting‬ happened in ‪Roseburg‬, which is in Douglas County. The county's Sheriff is John ‪‎Hanlin‬. Ok? Now for the news:

"Hanlin spoke out against state and federal gun-control legislation last year, telling a state legislative committee that mandating background checks for private, person-to-person gun sales would not prevent criminals from getting ‎firearms‬.
Hanlin also sent a letter to Vice President Joe Biden after the 2012 shooting at a ‪‎Newtown‬, Conn., elementary school.
Hanlin said he and his deputies would refuse to enforce new gun-control restrictions “offending the constitutional rights of my citizens.”
Hanlin told CNN on Friday that his position on gun control had not changed following Thursday's shooting in his town."

Yep, the killing of nine at the college in the very town where he lives only reinforces his determination on the ‪‎guns‬ issue :(

Anne in Salem said...

I am not a gun lover. I don't understand the fascination with guns any more than you two do. I don't understand why anyone needs the fire power that is allowed or the destructive bullets that are sold. On the flip side, I do fully support hunting if one consumes the target. Killing for sport or fun is incomprehensible.

But, you are right. I agree with Sheriff Hanlin. I don't believe strict gun laws will solve the problems. I know this is a simplistic comparison, but prohibition certainly didn't stop people from drinking, and it increased the violence surrounding alcohol. Gun control will not keep guns away from those who really want them. Look at Chicago this summer. Gun control will prevent law-abiding citizens from protecting and defending themselves. The Constitution guarantees a right to keep and bear arms. I know it refers to arms in relation to a militia, but it does not restrict ownership to participation in a militia.

It seems like there should be some sort of reasonable compromise, but I think it will be easier to get agreement on climate change.