Today, in my city, in my backyard, in my home, 12 people died at the hands of a shooter (or shooters? We don’t even know).
I was getting ready for work (straightening my hair) when I received the CNN alert that a shooting had occurred at Navy Yard. (It was around 8:30am.) I didn’t give it a second thought. After all, shootings happen how often in DC? And I kept straightening my hair. Normally, I would’ve already been on my way to work, but I had a meeting on the Hill this morning, so I went straight there from my house, rather than stopping in at the office.
When I got off the metro at Union Station a few minutes after 10am, I saw police ALL around the station -- one officer even standing guard with his trusty K-9 companion. And that's when I knew something was wrong. I walked all the way from Union Station, past the Senate office buildings, across the Capitol plaza, to the House side, and every 10 feet or so, there was a police officer on duty, weapon (probably loaded and) at the ready. It reminded me of Istanbul last month (but I haven't told you that story yet, so you probably don't understand the comparison unless I've shared that story in person.) When I arrived at the Member's office in the Longworth building, the news was on, and the coverage was ALL about the shooting. Navy Yard was closed down, the metro had stopped running, police were looking for suspects, and no one knew at that point who or how many had died.
But to be completely honest, none of this phased me. I mentioned some of the bits I'd caught from the TV to the others in our meeting, but none of them seemed phased either. We went about our business, and then we caught a cab back to our respective offices, with nary a thought for anyone at Navy Yard.
When I got back to my office, the news was on (surprise). It's always on, but the coverage all. day. long. was about the shooting. The reporters kept saying DC hadn't experienced anything like this since 9/11. And I felt today a lot like I felt on 9/11. I didn't get what the bug fuss was about. On 9/11/01, I was in high school, and I remember my history teacher, Mrs. Miner (who was also our M.U.N. -- Model United Nations -- advisor) saying that our world would NEVER be the same. That forevermore, time would be divided into pre-9/11 and post 9/11 time periods. And I didn't understand why... Today, I just didn't get why the media was making such a big deal about the shooting. And the more I thought about it, the more distraught I became that I live in a world where mass shootings are SO commonplace, that when one occurs a few measly miles away from me, I can so easily turn around and go about my day like nothing has happened.
I went back and forth all day between periods of dismissing the news and going about my work and periods of shock at my own... callousness? No, that's not the right word... Hang on, let me Google synonyms... desensitization, inhumanity, cold-bloodedness, lack of sympathy or tender feelings, etc. This kept going on in the back of my head even throughout the night. I half-joked to my roommate that I was overanalyzing to make up for underanalyzing the situation all day.
It sounds ridiculous probably, but it's true. My heart does hurt for those who were affected by today's shootings -- the victims, their families and friends. And it hurts for myself and those of my generation who have grown so accustomed to news of mass shootings, that we go abut our days, and things like this no longer phase us. It makes me feel... angry. The worst part is I don't know what to do about it. I don't know what I can do to make the world a better place in this regard. Now, as in many other times, all I can do is rely on prayer to comfort and strengthen those affected by the shootings -- and myself.