Live with it (Fountain Square, Cincinnati, September 6, 2018)

I drove my daughter to daycare this morning, and passed the square — the heart of downtown — where three people were senselessly murdered last Thursday.

I wasn’t here that day, so in some ways I don’t feel entitled to the grief and outrage that I feel. To the tears and the trembling.

On the other hand, this is my home now, and I have stood in that square dozens of times. This place lives in my heart, and in my daughter’s bones. Is that not entitlement enough?

This was the “acceptable” kind of shooting. The gun was not an AR-15. The police responded quickly and effectively. (Thank goodness for them.) The number of dead can be counted on one hand.

I don’t know how to feel about that. As someone who advocates for “reasonable” gun regulations, I suppose this is the sort of scenario “I can live with.”

Except that I can’t.

I am. I have to.

But I can’t. I don’t want to.

The whole city is “living with it.” Surviving, moving on. Except for the ring of flowers around the fountain on the square, and the yellow caution tape around the front doors of the building where it happened, you would never even know about our little tragedy. I’m both proud of my city for this, and deeply sorry. We are #CincyStrong, but we deserve to be unmoored. We shouldn’t have to go on as normal, because this — people getting shot at work, or at an ice cream shop — shouldn’t be normal.

This should not be normal.

But it is.

This is our normal now. This is what we made.

Can we do better? I believe so. I have to.

Day by day, brick by brick, I will do my best to build something better.

I know I’m not alone, and that is how I “live with it.”

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6 Comments

  1. I don’t think “entitled” is the point. I’ve met a lot of people who were very upset about September 11, and I’ve never felt they were any less entitled than me just because they might have been half a world away and I was across the street. Grief is grief and compassion is compassion.

    As the saying goes, it’s not a zero sum game.

    • Oh I agree, “entitled” is not the point. But that guilt and uncertainty exists nevertheless, mixed in with all the other feelings.

      • Oh, absolutely. It does come into our thinking all the time. For example, I read your last post with great interest, but I hesitated about commenting. I’m a straight white guy — what do I have to say about these questions of representation? I wrote a story with a trans protagonist once — am I “entitled” to do that?

        Anyway, yes, I know that feeling.

        Also, I do have to point out that, when I wrote my first comment, I was completely oblivious to the fact that I was writing about 9/11 and it actually is 9/11 today. Which I guess says something about how we adapt and recover from these things, in some ways, since for the first ten years or so it was a pretty miserable anniversary for me.

        • Adapt and recover, yes. The human spirit is amazing. I’m just sorry we’ve had to flex it so much and so often.

          I’m glad, though, that 9/11 isn’t as miserable for you these days. So far I still feel very aware of the date, but the urgency of it has faded. In a good way, I think.

  2. I’m with you about “reasonable” gun control. I hear so many people saying they wish they’d been there because they carry a gun and could have shot the shooter even sooner. That alarms me more than anything that actually happened that day. It’s a tragedy that there were victims, but I am SO PROUD of our police force. They did their job quickly and efficiently and saved so many lives that might have been lost.

    I don’t know what has to change in our country to make this “not normal” again. I wish I did.

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