A New Normal

Yesterday I woke to find the world in pain and outrage over the shooting of a large number of people in Florida. A true rampage. 50 dead. 50. Everyone was distressed, angry, sad, stunned…you know. All the usual things, maybe with the volume turned up.

The thing I found upsetting is that I felt nothing.

This sort of thing has become so pervasive, so common, that it’s become part of the background of living in the U.S. and I can’t find the room for outrage any more. The phrase that first crossed my mind was, “Again?” The second was, “Of course.”

This is how people must feel living in a war zone, but a slow motion version.

We become inured to our circumstances. “Normal” is relative. Normal is what we become used to, surrounded by, marinated in, grow up with. People taking guns into public places and choosing to kill other people with abandon has become part of my normal, and I don’t know what to do with that. I am out of outrage, out of pain, out of frustration and anger.

I’m not saying that I’m okay with this. I’m not saying that we should expect it, tolerate it, not be outraged by it. I’m just stunned at how firmly it’s become part of my normal. And how horrifying that is.

I don’t think most of us can deny that this country feels like it’s on the verge of a tipping point, but which direction it will tip out of 360º is unknown at this point. And I realize that if I want it not to tip towards fear – fear which is the root of anger, hate, and despair – then I can’t feel nothing.

I can’t let this be normal. But I cannot conjure up my anger and sadness and outrage any more. I’ve grieved too much about things both personal and public. I have none of that left.

What I can conjure is love. I can conjure compassion and kindness. I can cultivate them and hope that is enough to give the world the energy it needs to tilt in the direction toward growth, not destruction, and by doing so, feed myself and create a new normal.

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