Our Tragic Conditioning

I pass by one of the local high schools every day on my way to work. Usually, there's very little to remark upon. A few kids walking to the bike path who should obviously be in class. Parents zooming into the carpool lane and kids hopping out while the car's still rolling.

This morning, though, was different.

There was a fire truck with lights flashing parked by the front door. Kids were streaming out of the doors -- haphazardly but not panicked.

But my mind jumped straight to the conclusion:
Oh no
Not here
Not again
Please not here
I know the numbers. There are over 100,000 schools in the United States and a tiny, tiny, tiny fraction have had school shootings. There are thousands of movie theaters in the United States and two have been the sites of mass shootings.

The odds are with us.

But the mind is not always rational. It ignores numbers and statistics in the face of what it has seen.

And over the last 20 years, I've seen too much of this:





 So you'll forgive me if it took a minute for reality to set in.

Fire drill.
It's a fire drill.
It's fine.
They're OK.

This is not a post about guns. This is not a post about gun control. This is not a post about mental health care, or politics, or the NRA, or whether schools should hold lock-down drills.

This is a post about what we've become. What we've gotten used to. What has become routine, normal, unexceptional and indistinguishable from one event to the next. Our hearts break over and over again and so often that it's a wonder we can put the pieces back together between shootings.

Or can we?





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