(Copyright 1999 by The Tattoo. All rights reserved.)

The Tattoo

--- Making a Permanent Impression Since 1994 ---

April 26, 1999

--- OPINION ---

'If it wasn't me, it wasn't real'

The Tattoo

I was sitting there, a pile of tissues on the floor all
around me, sobbing over the loss of a character on my
favorite soap opera when I heard about it. Dan Rather
interrupted my program to bring me the latest news
out of Littleton, Colorado.  

My first reaction to the school shooting was, "Here we
go again."
But as the story unfolded I realized that  this one was
a little worse than the others.  That -- what? -- there
were bombs now?  And deputies were opening fire? 
Everything was growing confused and chaotic and my
jaw was on the ground.

I really didn't know why I was so surprised.  Things
like this happen in America.  Psycho kids killing each
other, bomb-making recipes on the Internet, guns for
sale on your local street corner.

But, yes, I was surprised.  I was mortified to think that
right at that very moment there were kids my own age
getting shot in the "safety" of their own school. I was
trying to fathom what they could be thinking, but I

Just then, something truly symbolic happened. Rather
signed off, and my soap came back on.

And do you know what I did?  I didn't call my mother
at work to see if she'd heard about it. I didn't go on a
rampage about how things like this shouldn't happen. I
didn't even think about those kids in Colorado. I went
back to watching my soap.  Because if it wasn't me, it
wasn't real.

I think that's the attitude a lot of people in America
have. Unless something like this happens close to
home, the shock is just not enough to set people in

No one does anything until it's too late.  No one pays
attention until it blows up in their face. How many
times has this happened the past decade?  Three? 
Hello!  That's got to say something.
I'm halfway waking myself up here. too. Because this
will bother me for a while, but all the while I know it
will never happen to me. And the chances are it wont,
but it could. Who really knows for sure?
The thing that upsets me the most about the whole
thing is that these people were allowed to die -- that
two kids were allowed to get their hands on bomb-
making materials and guns, walk into a school and
open fire. No one could do a thing.  No one saw it
coming. No one was prepared.

It's tragic, it's sad, it's depressing, and it's really, really
frustrating to know that even after this has happened
the world will move and shake for a while, but when
the fear and shock have worn off, we'll slide right
back into steady slow motion.

We'll have our guard down, we'll be sitting pretty with
our metal detectors and see-through backpacks, and
you know what? It'll happen again.

Which makes me wonder if the problem really lies
there, with the tangible problems like guns and bombs,
or in the kids who are committing these terrorist acts.

Whatever it is, can we fix it? Can we ever be ready
for it? Unless it's happened to us, are we scared
enough to really care? I donít know. I actually think
I'm more scared of the not knowing than of some lu-
natic shooting me in the lunch line.
And while I feel for the children in Colorado, I don't
feel it enough to miss my soap tomorrow.