What am I supposed to say?
When 17 innocent people are shot dead, what is there for me to say?
When kids, 14-year-old kids, are murdered while attending school in one of the most developed nations in the world, what is the right thing for me to say?
Should I analyze the scumbag who did this? Should I try to find the part of his childhood that traumatized him? Or perhaps, should I talk about a doctor or guidance counselor who noted that he was troubled? Maybe the kids who called him mean names on Twitter? Should I mention how much time he spent playing “Call of Duty?”
Is there something in particular you would like me to say?
Would you like me to offer my thoughts and prayers? Would you like me to send good vibes and love? How about condolences? Are those all right?
Am I allowed to say anything at all? Is it too soon? Should I let the GoFundMe campaigns paying for these children’s funerals run their course before writing something?
Should I wait until next time? Should I wait until the next shooting to say something? Hopefully the next one will have less victims – that’d be easier to talk about, right?
Those thoughts and prayers still coming along fine? We’ll probably need more of them in the future, right? Maybe if we do well enough this time, it will stop all the other ones, right?
Is there anything left for me to say? Have we forgotten about it already? Did I think about it too much? Am I being too blunt?
Well, I suppose this really was my fault, wasn’t it? I forgot that believing in actual, physical, legislative change as the most direct solution to problems in this country is a radical idea – silly me, right? Maybe I should’ve written this on how Marco Rubio’s hashtags will cultivate our collective, withering sympathy. Or on how if everyone has a gun, it’s like nobody actually has a gun. Or how about I speculate that if only those kids had gang-rushed that maniac…
It took me until now to realize that the eloquence of post-tragedy prose was exhausted long before Stoneman Douglas, long before Virginia Tech, long before Columbine. We’ve wrenched every last drop of nuance from this topic. Everything I’ve said has been said before.
I can’t sit here and pretend to have something Earth-shattering to say. I don’t. I want fewer murder weapons and more lives spared.
I’ve lost you. Did I say something wrong? Would it be beneficial if I went back to asking questions instead of finding an answer? I suppose plenty of you were here for an arthouse think-piece and not a real statement on anything, right? Am I OK now? Did I say the right stuff?
Would it be better if I said I knew someone who died that day? What if I said they were a friend? Or a sibling? Or a parent? Would you listen to me then? Would you care then?
Should I write one of these for next time? Should I write one in advance, in case I get shot? Who am I kidding? Who cares? It doesn’t matter whether people liked it, does it? Someone else will go out and shoot some more people pretty soon, won’t they? And I’ll change a few sentences and publish this whole thing again, won’t I?
Then, you’ll shake your head at it again, won’t you?
Jason Donnelly is a freshman majoring in instrumental performance.