I’m sure to some, forty years seems like a long time. But when you’re the person who’s lived them, you wonder how they passed by so quickly that they were no more than a gust of wind as they flew by you. Most of the moments—good or bad—are a mish-mash of memories that were filled with laughter or tears, sometimes both.
Sadly, it’s the most horrific moments that remain clear in our minds. The ones that brought you together with the rest of the world in tears at the realization that evil exists and crazy can strike at any time.
I remember being in school when President Reagan was shot on March 30, 1981. I was also in school when the space shuttle Challenger broke apart 73 seconds into flight on January 28, 1986.
I cried for days as the story of Timothy McVeigh and his victims unfolded after the Oklahoma Bombing on April 19, 1995. The same was true for the Columbine shootings on April 20, 1999.
I sat shocked with the rest of the nation as I watched the news on the morning of September 11, 2001 and saw the second plane hit the World Trade Center tower.
I was dumbfounded at yet another school tragedy with Virginia Tech on April 16, 2007; even more dumbfounded when it happened closer to home at Northern Illinois University on February 14, 2008.
Then there’s this past Saturday, January 8, 2011. Tragedy struck once again, this time in Tucson, Arizona.
I am going to confess that I’ve tuned most of it out. Unable to process yet another tragedy in which I cry not only for the victims, but for the perpetrator, I made the choice to stay somewhat distant from the discussion.
I realize that may not be a popular stance, but as I consider all of the tragedies that I’ve been alive to be witness to—albeit not in person—my heart breaks. It breaks for those who are victims of insanity’s moment, and those who are victims of insanity daily.
With the exception of the Challenger shuttle tragedy, all of the moments I listed were brought about by people who were overwhelmed with insanity, whether in the form of extreme hate, extreme hopelessness or extreme delusion—in some cases all three.
We face these tragedies and we spend weeks asking why? We ask how? We point fingers at others, we blame guns, we look for answers that don’t exist and then our interest begins to fade and we move on. We’re not smarter, and no better able to cope the next time we’re shocked by events and we are forced to say, once again, “Oh the insanity…”