It’s there on Twitter, the name of a city, and the words “Pray for” in front of it.
And I know there was tragedy, minutes or hours ago.
I Google the city, read the article. Sometimes whatever happened is still ongoing, so I read another.
Not a third. Never a third. Not even to check the body count.
There is always a body count.
I have hated, before. I have hated fiercely, consumingly. With the strength of my blood and the knowledge of my mind, I have loathed those who have wronged me. I have wished they would disappear.
I can imagine wishing them dead. It’s not a far leap. I’ve wished them in front of buses and trains, I’ve wished them miss-stepping off a cliff. In my hurt and fury, I’ve willed them illness and pain.
Not by me, though.
Never by me.
And I cannot quite imagine hating someone to the point of deliberately arming myself. Going to the gun shop for ammo and munitions. Driving to the store for a mask. Picking it out from among the bright orange and yellow and hunting camo. Perhaps trying it on in the mirror to check that it looked right.
Truly, I cannot imagine not looking at myself and stopping right there.
Perhaps they don’t look at themselves.
But how could they avoid it? This country—any country—we are saturated in reflections. Rearview mirrors and security mirrors. Tight corner mirrors. Enormous plate windows. They must see themselves, they must.
Perhaps they see righteousness.
And that is what I don’t understand. From Sodom and Gomorrah to the streets of London and back to a movie theater in Colorado, I cannot see the righteousness of killing strangers wholesale. Even Columbine, I can see the motives, people they knew and reviled, but Sandy Hook I cannot fathom.
And the fact that I can name random schools and an entire country knows them for the blood spilled there says something in itself.
I do not ask it as a question, for it has a thousand answers. I ask it as a matter of principle, for that has only one. Why did they do it, these terrorists, these gunmen. These men.
Why do they look at others and see a body count to be raised instead of lives going strong.
Why do they feel such conviction.
Such entitlement to have the final say: live or die, do or do not.
I am not anti-gun; guns exist, and we must deal with them. I am not anti-men; men exist, and we must deal with them. I am not anti-religion; religion exists, and we must deal with it. All three of those can bring peace or terror. None is essentially evil.
The belief in one human’s essential superiority over another is. We are souls, nothing more. Our deeds make us shine or dim, but we each weigh on the earth no more heavily than one another.
Why can they not see that.
Another hashtag. Another tragedy. Another stream of people saying, “Stop the hatred” with anger in their hearts.
I am exhausted.