Tuesday, April 16, 2013

On recent events.

I try really hard to keep curent stuff off the blog, unless it's book related. I don't want to be one of those band wagon "GEE SOMETHING TERRIBLE HAPPENED AND I NEED TO BLOG ABOUT IT" bloggers. So I was going to work out the Boston Marathon thing on my own.

And then I opened the Ms. for the next book and realized I'd started it off with this paragraph:

Broken glass sparkled like ten thousand diamonds, flashing red and blue with the light of ambulances and fire trucks and more police cars than Casey had seen in her entire life. It was almost like magic. Explosions, danger, violence…yes. It was definitely like magic.

For the record, I wrote that over two months ago. I read it five times and realized I couldn't get past it.

The bombing yesterday is a terrible thing. And the part that disgusts me about the things we talk about--the part that has always disgusted me--is that we're going to spend the next several months talking about who did it and why they did it and if it is fair to accuse Ethnic Group Y of doing terrible things, and in the process we're going to turn the terrible thing into A Political Issue that has nothing whatsoever to do with what actually happened.

We haven't done that yet, but it happens every time.

Here is what actually happened: Somebody decided that their political and/or religious ideology was more important than the health and lives of other human beings. That ideology is unimportant. When you make the move from ideological discussion to violence, your ideology becomes unimportant. People who build bombs don't build bombs because of their ideology. They build bombs because they want to, and they find an ideology that will justify their bomb-building.

Whoever did this? They're watching the news and waiting for themselves to be mentioned. They hear "hunt for the bomber" and they get a thrill of excitement. Because in the end it isn't the politics or the ideology or the number of dead people this person used to justify killing more people. It's about how their pulse raced when they put the bombs down and walked away. It's about realizing that they are now world famous, that they did that. They blew up the Boston Marathon. It's like they did their own art installation piece, in their mind. Dead people? They're not thinking about dead people. They're thinking about how great they feel. How alive. Marc Hoffman blew up two people in Salt Lake City before accidentally blowing up himself (he kinda sucked at the whole bombing thing). During the preliminary hearing they brought bomb parts out that had to be removed from a victim's chest, and when he saw the pieces of his bomb every single witness agreed that Marc Hoffman had a goddamn orgasm.

That's what this is about. One bad person, or an entire group of bad people, deciding that their political ideology justifies killing other people and getting their rocks off in the process.

One sociopathic nutcase has now managed to capture our attention, our feelings and our thoughts. Not because he has a great point to prove, but because he can.

People with great points to prove do not do this. They become orators. They learn how to speak and write and capture the public's attention, or they ally themselves with people who can. They build movements. They don't build bombs.

Human failures build bombs because they can't accomplish anything else, and they don't care.

Now it is time for the rest of us to stand up and say that behavior is completely unacceptable. This isn't an issue of race or religion or politics or rights. It's an issue of a bad person doing bad things because they want to. And it doesn't matter if you'd agree with them over beers the night before, the only right reaction is to say this thing was unjustified and wrong.

Because it is.

Because other people died so that one individual, or one group of individuals, could feel better for a handful of days.

The thing is, what prompted me to write this wasn't the fact that I'd opened my next book with a bombing. What prompted me to write was going to a writing forum for advice on how to handle it, and finding this instead. It's from the facebook of Patton Oswalt. I have no idea who he is, but I recognize the truth when I read it:

Boston. Fucking horrible.

I remember, when 9/11 went down, my reaction was, "Well, I've had it with humanity."

But I was wrong. I don't know what's going to be revealed to be behind all of this mayhem -- one human insect or a poisonous mass of broken sociopaths.
But here's what I DO know. If it's one person or a HUNDRED people, that number is not even a fraction of a fraction of a fraction of a percent of the population on this planet. You watch the videos of the carnage and there are people running TOWARDS the destruction to help out. (Thanks FAKE Gallery founder and owner Paul Kozlowski for pointing this out to me). This is a giant planet and we're lucky to live on it but there are prices and penalties incurred for the daily miracle of existence. One of them is, every once in a while, the wiring of a tiny sliver of the species gets snarled and they're pointed towards darkness.

But the vast majority stands against that darkness and, like white blood cells attacking a virus, they dilute and weaken and eventually wash away the evildoers and, more importantly, the damage they wreak. This is beyond religion or creed or nation. We would not be here if humanity were inherently evil. We'd have eaten ourselves alive long ago.

So when you spot violence, or bigotry, or intolerance or fear or just garden-variety misogyny, hatred or ignorance, just look it in the eye and think, "The good outnumber you, and we always will.

At 9/11 humanity proved that it is mostly good. When Christians rise to Muslem's defense, we prove we are mostly good. When Muslems rise to Christian's defense, we prove that we are mostly good. During natural disasters, people still walk towards the danger, not away, because other people still need them. When we value other lives even over our own religious beliefs and political ideals and personal health and welfare, we as individuals prove that we are mostly good.

When we attack other human beings just because we can? That's when you find that isolated evil.

Let joy and innocence prevail.

I'm going to leave this movie quote here, and then I'm going to walk away.


  1. Mr. Rogers' mother also had something to say about this: http://www.itsokaytobesmart.com/post/48065021330/im-sort-of-thrown-off-today-its-hard-to-be

  2. May I quote you on tumblr? Because I think it would help a lot of people to hear it.

    1. Thank you. I mentor a bunch of really good kids on there and some of them took it really hard.