I’m sitting in a building less than 10 blocks from where a shooter opened fire in New York City this morning outside the Empire State Building. I can still hear the helicopters buzzing overhead as they’ve been doing since just after 9 a.m. One week ago I walked with my daughter down that very block after an office outing. This is the third public, multiple shooting since July in the United States. Twenty are dead, over sixty have physical scars, and the rest of us have psychological trauma. Gun control? Only a distant dream. I have been reading quite a lot about embodiment lately. The idea is both simple and complex at the same time: we are born with physical bodies and our minds spend our entire lives trying to make sense of them. Guns have a way of radically interfering with the process.
Often I have heard the adage, “guns don’t kill people, people do.” This may be true, but it is no more so than the fact that we are all embodied creatures and we have a right not to be shot by homicidal maniacs. At least I think so. There are enough guns to wipe out the population of this nation, and I’m sitting at my desk in a subtle panic since nobody seems to know what happened yet. The beating of the helicopter rotors is loud, petulant, distracting.
As the morning wears on the reports begin to take some order. The shooter wasn’t acting indiscriminately. The nine of the ten (later revised to ten of the eleven) people shot were caught in the crossfire between police and the gunman. The helicopters leave. Perversely I find myself relieved. Natural disasters happen and the lives of countless thousands are taken. The difference is there no motive is involved. As much as some televangelists want to tell us that “God” is punishing mostly innocent people, the fact is tsunamis, hurricanes, wildfires, earthquakes, volcanoes, and tornados are completely natural events. Maybe firearmophilia is natural as well. I can hear the sirens as innocent bystanders are rushed to the hospital. My embodied psyche turns back to my computer. Work won’t wait, and no matter where we are, we are all potentially innocent bystanders in a world where trust in guns has eclipsed trust in gods.
2 thoughts on “Anatomy of a Neurosis”