I have felt terribly whipsawed of late by the constant flow of news that hits my consciousness through one channel or another. I’ve even turned off all of the alerts that used to bombard my smart phone, but shutting down the input doesn’t mean the stories aren’t there, from the latest hate-filled invective of the our current president on through the latest senseless death.
On the day the students of Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida spearheaded a remarkable worldwide outpouring of support for sensible gun-laws and a deeper look at how our prejudices and bigoted assumptions skew our reaction to gun violence, I caught hold of the following story out of Austin, Texas: Austin bombing victim accepted at Oberlin before death.
The “bombing victim” referred to was Draylon Mason. He was a talented double-bassist who was one of 130 students accepted into the Oberlin Conservatory of Music out of a pool of 1,500 applicants. It seems he’d been accepted into the school prior to his horrific death when a package bomb exploded and killed him. The bombing on March 12, 2018 also caused extensive injuries to his mother. It was the second bomb that had exploded in what became a serial bombing case. The bomber, Mark Anthony Conditt, a 23-year-old a white Christian, was not labeled a terrorist and in the days that followed, it was revealed he had left behind a cell phone recording, described by a law enforcement official as “the outcry of a very challenged young man.”
I do not dispute that a “lone wolf” bomber is likely “very challenged.” No more than any of the other whackos that grab weapons of mass destruction to gun down students and concert goers and crowds of shoppers and so on.
What I feel broken by is how we as a society continue to discount the lives of people of color. Where were the stories about Draylon Mason’s life? Where was the compassion for his parents and family and friends about his death? Where are the ribbons on the trees near his house and the candles and vigils?
All of this leaves me with the query: if not now when?
We cannot have another senseless death on our hands without really looking deeply at who we have become as a society. Our children have shown us a path for dialogue–and now it is up to all of us to heed their call to actually do something about it. Enough is enough.