Monday, April 20, 2015

The cruelest month

There's something about April. I get that some of  the bad stuff that happened in Aprils past was traceable back to previous bad things (the old "an eye for an eye" thing - "I'm'a gonna kill innocent people, because innocent people were killed before")

the biggest thing, locally, is the anniversary (I thought it was today but it was yesterday, actually) of the Murrah Building bombing in OKC.

I remember this....I wasn't here, didn't even know I'd be moving here (I had started on my dissertation, was a few months into it). I was sitting in Biostats class that morning and a student came in and said, "Did you hear, the Federal Building in Oklahoma City got blown up!" At the time, we didn't realize how bad it was - most of us only associated OKC with where our tax forms went (back in those days, we all mailed in paper forms, and there were regional offices). It was only later, when we got out of class and trooped up to one lab where there was a radio that we found out the full scary extent. (And then later, the photos. The (in)famous photo of the firefighter carrying out the wounded/dead child from the day care. I think that's the one that really brought home to people how evil the bombing was). That was 20 years ago now.

The bombing was allegedly, so it came out in trial, retribution for the burning of the Branch Davidian compound in Waco. (And again I say: "An eye for an eye makes the whole world blind." I hope if I ever lose it to the degree that I think killing someone else's kid is an appropriate response to someone I regard as "one of my own" being killed, I hope someone shoots me before I get that chance. I'm serious.)

Then, in 1999, there was the shooting at Columbine. This was the first big school shooting, followed by far too many others. Again, I remember that one - I remember sitting up in the guest room at my parents' house (which I kind of used as a sitting room in those days) and watching it on the evening news and being horrified. And then, some eight years later, the Virginia Tech shooting - which led to some changes on my own campus; we were given some "training" (O how useless it would be in a real incident, though) and we had to complete some certificate-based NIMS training online.

And the Boston Marathon bombings - more violence, more awfulness. I don't think either of the school shootings or this can be linked to other events the way the OKC bombing was allegedly linked to Waco. But there does seem to be something about April.

And the fertilizer-plant explosion in West, Texas - which was more a natural disaster than any one person's choice to perform an evil act - but still, many people were killed, a small community was largely destroyed, lives were altered forever.

The events make me wonder if there's something about April - if somehow people who are on the edge of doing something awful get pushed into it this month for some reason - the fragile, beginning spring in much of the country, the fact that winter is over and it's easier to get around again and get out and do things. I don't know. I wonder if it's similar in a way to what someone once told me, that sometimes people who were suicidal but never expressed or tried to act on it, went ahead and did it after going on medication, because apparently the medication gave them the volition they were lacking. (Someone told me this in the wake of a cousin of mine committing suicide. It actually helped me a little to think of it that way. It was a complex situation and while I wish he hadn't done it, on some level I can see how much he was hurting and how bleak everything looked to him where he was at that time. And it happened more than 10 years ago at this point so I'm pretty much over it and I've forgiven him but I wish he had called someone up instead, and someone had come and got him..... he was in December, though, so it doesn't fit the April pattern)

(Those are the ones I remember. I guess Lincoln was shot in April, and the Titanic went down in April as well).

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