Mass shootings. School shootings. They feel commonplace now. We watch the news coverage. We shed a few tears. We have several heated debates about gun control and mental health support. And then?
We move on. Until the next one comes. We think that something has to be done, but we do nothing. We don’t act. Maybe because we aren’t sure how. Maybe because we don’t think that anything will happen in our community.
But what if it does occur in your community? What if it happens near someone you love? What do you do then?
Yesterday afternoon, I received a text message from Joey. Their bank branch was on lock down. He could see dozens of emergency vehicles lining up outside of their front door. They were barricaded inside, but something terribly, terribly wrong was happening across the street.
Their branch sits on the north end of Seattle Pacific University. It’s a small, but beautiful campus located in a quiet neighborhood — just about a five minute drive from where we live. They share their building with the SPU bookstore. Across the street, no more than 50 yards away, sits Otto Miller Hall. It’s a building that houses classes from the school’s science and engineering department. And it’s where yesterday afternoon, a man opened fire and took the life of a young student and injured several others before bystanders were able to tackle him to the ground and disarm him.
You sort of accept that this is part of our culture, even though you don’t want to accept it. Until you are the one whose phone is glued to her hand, waiting for updates on whether your spouse is safe. Until you are listening him recount watching the SWAT team arrive and the victims depart in ambulances. Until you can’t even escape the hum of the helicopters in your own home.
I can’t speak for Joey, but I can only imagine how he feels. And I will only repeat one thing he said last night. He looked into our daughter’s eyes and he spit out, “I’m sorry. I’m sorry you have to grow up in this world.”
I’m sorry she does, too. Only sorry isn’t good enough.