Sunday 18 February 2018


There are two things on my mind right now, disparate and hard to combine. The weird and entirely new feeling of faint homesickness, caused by the Winter Olympics - a feeling I've successfully avoided for three years, that is now evoked purely by the sound of skies on snow, the twists and angles of athletes throwing themselves down a mountain on a pair of sticks - and the feeling of dread, after the 17 lives lost in a Florida high school. 
Something that I have to admit would have passed me, the way that previous attacks have (and the mere fact that there have been countless previous attacks and lives lost since Columbine, 19 years ago), if it weren't for the rage and fury of these students, insisting that their country doesn't return to the status quo as effortlessly at is had before. Their directed and articulate rage is inspiring, but as is the idea that the solution to this is teachers bearing arms, or teachers putting their own lives on the line, or children being taught how to make their own death last those vital ten seconds longer so that they may save someone else. It is of course a completely unthinkable situation for anyone outside the United States - how easily firearms are obtained, and how ease in which they kill so many is not considered at all because there are so many who would sacrifice lives for the principle of gun ownership. 
It's an irrational quirk of American history and culture, one that we (in Europe, in Australia, since 1996) can ponder with the detached luxury of countries that consider themselves superior to such irrationalities.  It makes me wonder about how it would have transformed my experience of being in school, of regarding the angry, lonely kids and the loud kids and the aggressive kids as suddenly transformed into an existential threat, and how much that would have been an impossible thing to deal with, considering the limited resources of teachers and students. But also, imagine being young and knowing how many times before this has happened, and how many other kids have come out of this thankfully alive but traumatised for life, and also realising how utterly unwilling your parents' and grandparents' generation and the politicians representing you are to take the oh so obvious steps to prevent this from ever happening again. It's the hardest thing about growing up - realising the irrationalities of others, the shortcomings, the things that seem glaringly obvious and seem so unavoidably embedded in your culture and politics. It's your own parents' fallibility, but on a grand scheme, with so much greater consequences than divorces and emotional pain. 
I'm with Rainbow Rowell and the idea that we need a slower news cycle, in which that speech - which must have taken so much to write, and to deliver - reverberates for longer than the next horrible headline to emerge. 

Imagine realising the fallibility of your own parents and grandparents, of every single politician representing your, because your friends and school mates have been slaughtered. Imagine growing up with such a keen sense of the steps required to prevent such a thing happening to anyone else, and seeing those in power failing to take those steps, out of greed, out of some misguided political ideology, out of sheer cowardice. I wonder what will happen - not just locally, not just in one country - when the distance between what generations consider rational and obvious becomes too great, and unbridgeable. I think we're almost there. 

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