This Week in America
This week in America, children will run drills, lock doors, cram themselves into corners; then they’ll get up, sit at their desks, and do multiplication tables. They’ll watch each other with suspicion, keep their heads on swivels in the halls, and repeat an inner mantra of “It won’t happen here.” And after a period of normalcy and repetition, after the fear dissipates and the space is once again filled with subconscious safety, they’ll turn on the news and see aerial footage of terrified teenagers filing out of a building with their hands over their head. And their first thought will be, “At least it wasn’t here.”
This week in America, fingers will be pointed firmly in all directions.
This week in America, parents will look uneasy as they pack school lunches and make breakfast, will do their best not to give away any cracks in their voice, as they think about how lucky they are that the worst hasn’t happened to them. They’ll line up to drop their children off, and seven hours later, line up to retrieve them, breathing sighs of relief. As weeks go by, their minutes spent in the carpool line will add up to hours and then days, and summer will come and go, and they’ll find themselves standing under the fluorescent lights of a Target aisle, scrutinizing pencil and binder prices and worrying only about how they’ll have dinner ready in time. And when they start the car and pull out of the parking lot, a radio DJ will tell them the breaking story of another madman who makes up in weaponry what he lacks in motive, and they’ll ask, in complete earnestness, despite all of the evidence to the obvious, “How could something like this happen?”
This week in America, common sense will be in short supply.
This week in America, gun sales will boom, and money will overflow from corporate coffers into the hands of lobbyists and politicians, legal strategists and PR specialists, all of whom will reassure us that the problem is not so much them, so much as it is us. They’ll shoot television ads, stand on the navy carpet of the Capitol Building, pay targeted-marketing gurus, unload everything they have on the American public. They’ll talk and talk and talk until “bullshit” becomes the standard language for the District of Columbia. And at the end of the news cycle, they’ll look at all of the nothing they’ve accomplished with a sense of pride. And a few months later, a school janitor will be working overtime, shaking his head and scrubbing blood spatter from a projector sheet at the front of an 8th-grade Social Studies class.
This week in America, there will be no answers.