I always know when I’m listening to someone who has never been the victim of real life violence. The untouched talk tough TV movie talk, so sure that they would do this or that if someone ever tried to blah blah blah, as if real life violence squares off and announces itself.
“You, there! You and me! Right now!” Choreographed fight scene commences.
Ridiculous. Too many movies.
I’ve been the victim of real life violence, and this is what I remember about it:
“What the fuck just happened?! What the FUCK just happened to me?!”
Real life violence comes out of nowhere, irrational, for no discernable reason. Real life violence makes no sense. It shocks you, overwhelms you, blind sides you. It’s unstoppably sudden. What you experience consciously is the dreamy immediate aftermath, the bewildered questioning, if you survive.
Just before the violence, in the fractured second before it explodes, you’re consumed with your own thoughts, your own desires, like we all are most of the time. In fact, I guarantee if we could somehow interview the deceased, ask them what their last thought was just before a mass shooter riddled them with freedom bullets, I’d bet my last dollar you’d hear common thoughts like:
“What am I gonna have for lunch?”
“I feel so fat in these jeans.”
“I’m so tired. I can’t believe how tired I am.”
We can only hope that more people than our jaded minds can imagine met their deaths thinking, “I can’t believe this. I’m really in love.” What a way to go.
And if you’re one who believes that a gun in the hand of a grade school child would make a real life difference, if you cling to these movie fantasies of rugged individualistic nonsense, you should strive to realize that the only way we have ever defended ourselves against real life violence is by forming and nurturing large interwoven communities based on love, mutual respect, empathy and compassion for others. The only way to save ourselves from real life violence is to render all violence absolutely culturally unacceptable, obscene.
But, of course, you could instead spend your life preparing, bracing, being ever vigilant, ever on guard and armed, always ready to defend yourself and your family against violence with more violence. You can think like that, living hyper-defensive, hyper-aware. That’s your right, but that’s also called PTSD, my friends, and you should really get some help for that.