So it happens again. And again we gape, and again we weep, and again we make our thoughts intelligible even while knowing, underneath it all, that our thoughts mean nothing, and words are impotent. We speak up with anger and with fear and with aching hollow sadness, because there is nothing else we can do, and we hope it makes a difference and we know it cannot.
We fight the ease with which horror comes to seem commonplace now, because it happens again, and again, and again, with gut-churning predictability. Every time it is different, and every time it is horribly, grotesquely the same. So we rage against ourselves, because we know soon we won’t be able to help ourselves: we will shrug, and we will know we’re lost.
We assure ourselves we know the meaning, and we know the cause. We know that it happened for the reasons we’ve always known it happens, and we know that it didn’t happen for the reasons we long ago decided couldn’t have anything to do with it. We scream at our enemies for comfort and they scream back, because the pain is so huge, and we need to push it into any space it will fit.
And we say, over and over, that surely now things will change. Surely we cannot go on like this. We tell ourselves that things must reach a breaking point, and this time it has been reached, this time we have no other option, this time we will speak and they will listen and the world will start making sense.
And we know it won’t. We know nothing will change. We know we can go on like this. We know we will go on like this. Fifty bodies? A hundred bodies? A thousand? What difference does it make to those for whom power affords the privilege of concerning themselves with matters far more important than life or death?
And so on every side and at every turn, hearts are shattered, and minds are unchanged. For if we cannot hold on to anything, we can at least hold on to our certainty.
And there will be so many words, words of sorrow and of fury and of calm reason and of resentful petulance. Words of violence and hatred and peace and love and confusion and desperation and hope and despair and…more and more words, a deluge of words to take the place of the action we long ago gave up expecting.
Those words won’t mean anything, any more than these words mean anything. Because we have come to the point where words fail, where theory and analysis and politics collapse on themselves and we are left with nothing but the knowledge that we are all human, we are all here together, and all we really want is to be able to live, and to smile, and to find a way to make this brief holiday between the darknesses feel worth having. All we want is the impossibility of a world where nobody wishes for our annihilation.
What we want is out of our reach. So what can we do?
Nothing, but hold each other tight and try our best to keep living under these shadows. Nothing, but promise ourselves that there must be a better way, while we look out at our fellow humans and beg them: