Lately, everything seems to make me angry. I’m fed up with the idiocy of humanity and the lowest common denominator mentality that seems to dominate our society. Maybe it’s my age or my stage in life but everything I think sounds suspiciously like “Get off my damn lawn!”
I learned long ago to muddle through on the days that I’d rather not. Swim slow and steady strokes parallel to the shore through the undertow, and eventually the tide turns and you can make your way back to the beach again. We all have a slew of analogies and sayings for when things are bad and trite though they might be, there’s often a grain of truth in them.
But I seem to be losing that ability to spout a wise and zen-like quote to explain the inexplicable. Taking the long view or the high road doesn’t seem to be working. Everything devolves into a rant.
I’ve wanted to write about the violence in Chicago, but how does one explain violent death at the hands of a fellow human being? Death is easy to explain if the dead person was old. Or sick. Or had an accident. People get old. They die. Shit happens. Death can be tragic but still be understandable.
I can’t wrap my brain around a six month old child dying from multiple gunshot wounds in one of America’s greatest cities. Or anywhere, really. Maybe I could manage it if it happened in a war torn country. War is hell, and all that.
But Chicago? Chicago is a beautiful lakefront and museums and the University of Chicago and Wrigley Field and Lincoln Park Zoo and hundreds of fabulous little restaurants in charming neighborhoods. It’s wrought iron and dibs and graft and Old Style and Casimir Pulaski Day. It’s Colonel McCormick and Daniel Burnham and the first African American President in a country that used to have legalized slavery. It’s Progress, and progressive. It’s the City That Works.
And now, the City That Kills Babies.
I can’t even process it.
Who have we become, that we tolerate this in a great city? Who are we that we can move on from this story of death to the next one without skipping a beat, as we will surely do; as we have done before? What is wrong with us?
What is wrong with me?
I should be on a picket line or marching through the streets or accosting our elected officials to crack down on crime. I should be doing something, anything, to end this madness. I- we- should be able to fix it, to make it better, to right the wrong and none of us seem to be able to do a damn thing except mourn and rant and wait for it to happen again.
A baby died. A baby. Senselessly. Needlessly. A six month old baby.
Come to think of it, it’s probably a good thing to be this angry. There’s a time and a place for soapboxes and ranting and if the violent death of an infant isn’t one of them, then nothing is or ever will be.