Everyone Knows This Is the New Normal

Atmosphere in the immediate aftermath of the mass shooting on the Las Vegas Strip (Las Vegas Boulevard) in Las Vegas, Nevada on Sunday, October 1st, 2017. (Photo by: GOTPAP/STAR MAX/IPx)

I heard someone ask: Is this the new normal?

A mass shooting or vehicle attack every fortnight.  Almost bi-monthly now; every week. It’s inescapable with horror upon horror: People become inured to extremes of shock, disorientation, fear, and grief. Compassion fatigue, outrage fatigue; you can’t let every terrible incident kick you in the teeth.

Thoughts and prayers for the families that have received that dreaded call this week. Grieve for the lost, the young. Grieve for a day, a few days; the news cycle moves on, it must. Move back into routine, letting the sick denouement wash over and filter out to a bad memory of a bad night; it was a bad week.

Not an Islamist this time, not ISIS. No, an old white man, a “scumbag” the mayor of Las Vegas called him. Yes.

Sandy Hook: Unfathomable tragedy at the hands of a mad child. San Bernardino, calculated evil. The Pulse nightclub, a hybrid of ideology and buried self-hate. It hurts, each time, but a callous has bulwarked the heart. Life goes on. This is the new normal.

Stay out of the gun debate. Too soon. Debate over weaponry and its procurement is always with us, but we already know where everybody stands. It’s not really about that, argues an insistent voice of reason — always about the triggerman, the complicit woman, the cached basement, the wired van, curtains blowing in the hotel windows of insanity and evil.

Ride out the cycle, again, proud of America’s first responders, her resilient communities, her people. Down deep a vague shame that the humanity we share can sink to such degraded depths. Disgust.

Blame rampant narcissism on the outskirts of abiding faith, the plague of dissipated family, the unmooring vertigo of relative morality. Blame social media’s aggrandizing and hobbling platforms. Blame Islamic extremists (not this time, he’s a scumbag old white man). Blame the meds, yes. But blame doesn’t affix to anything concrete when everything is random, the perps so inexplicably subhuman. Blame is there, but it doesn’t make much difference after the news cycle has written its tale and moved on.

Pray for the families that receive crushing news this week. The news English parents got after the Arianna Grande concert and French parents got after Bataclan. Donate blood. Send money, amass fortunes that will heal around the edges, the hard edges of what it will take for loved ones to carry on, and will accrue enough to show that people are inherently good, that people care.

But my baby, my baby is gone forever. No cycled-out denouement for the families, mothers, fathers, grandparents, brothers, sisters, sons, daughters… It’s in the hands of a higher power now.

Thank God for your own adult and teenage children, safe. Happy when they pull in the driveway, quick to call them at their apartments across town, knowing how the oldest of them are beginning to understand the world they live in, and why their parents are worried. They are parents now too, or will be soon, and that changes everything.

The young, so often targets in the sights of debased, unredeemable cowardice. The concerts, the taverns, the promenades where our prized young adults make first discoveries, encounter dissonance, negotiate entanglements, hungry hearts on the prowl to gloriously find themselves, realize what it means for them to be alive. God help them.

The scumbags seem to know, whether mad, ideologically demented, just plain evil, or some combination of the worst of the human race, how to strike the heart of the social fabric.

Know that the rent in the social fabric caused by the death of scores and the wounding of hundreds will not undo the good America, but will bloody her psyche in demonstrable ways, the morning after, and the cumulative mornings after. After the blood, the scarring, each new time strikes less deeply, finds the scar tissue.

Look into the eyes on the day after, the faces of our day-to-day. Women rattled, men shaking their heads, and vice versa. Everyone is saying something, but not quite finding the words, because everybody knows this is the new normal, that there is no final summation, no final thing to say.