Flesh of Children Carnival

Church and the NRA

Not much difference that I can see,

It’s a matter of degree. 

Pedophilia is known to be

Hidden by The Holy See.

Children, abused, need therapy.

 

Unfortunately, this other trauma 

Compounds our current youthful drama:

The Gatling Gun deaths of lovers, 

Sisters, brothers,

And Best Friends Forever; 

Sadly, 

Forever is not as long as expected.

Violence tethers schoolhouse safety 

to automatically available 

weaponry.

 

Have we, 

Through these student’s measures,

Finally escaped the pressures 

Of those NRA confessors?

The bullies of gun bureaucracies 

Are losing the allegiance of common decencies.

Their PR advocates – cranky old gents

and pretty spokesmodels are the Bishops and Cardinals

sweeping violent abuse into some other parish.

Ignore that child’s gaping, giant wound, 

this is not the time to discuss such matters.’

 

Articulate children – the rifleman’s fear above all –

Have marched in DC, and made the Clarion call.

Counter student dissent as a ‘Carnival? 

Threaten with carnage, so kids fears are fed.

This carnivorous language chews into student’s heads

Recollected images of flesh so red,

Of the BFF who’s been shot dead;

More fear of the boogey man, 

The pedophile priest, 

The flesh of children carnival upon which adults feast. 

 

The adult world’s full of bureaucracies,

That force Alter boys down to their knees.

A class sweats for hours in cramped closets

imagining awful, fearful horrors

of those other kids, bleeding in the corridors. 

 

But David Hogg is standing up,

And so is Ms Tarr

Young Mr. Wind gives a good speech

and Emma González is tumultuously silent.

They impress us with capacities

We’d hope to see in grown-ups, please?

 

Adults, the time has come

To let the children guide us.

We’ve lost our own morality,

It is gone in church and state.

We taught them how to do it wrong, 

They’ve learned from our mistake,

It’s why they’re strong enough to build 

New, youthful, rectitudes. 

Virtues, fearless, marched that day

 Told truth to failures, now lead the way.

 

Copyright Bill O’Donnell 2018

odgraphix@icloud.com

One Clear & Simple Thought

Trippingly Off The Tongue 

It was thrilling to watch the speeches given by the students of Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School yesterday at the March for Our Lives in Washington, DC. The seventy or so people attending the St. Croix, VI march saw our students do a fine job too. The beauty of watching these young people speak either in DC on my computer, or at the gazebo in Christiansted was that they used the art of rhetoric so well. Their style matched the venues they were in and the audience in attendance. They all knew their audience.

Courage is essential for speaking in public no matter what the audience. A young girl sang a song at our local event while the sound system dropped out on occasion. She kept going, unfazed by the loss of her accompaniment. She had a single purpose which she accomplished with clarity. Given the nature of things here, post-hurricanes, she was doing what successful Islander’s do: carry on! She personified the people of St. Croix well.

Those students who spoke at DC represented the constituency of high school students well. They represented humanity well, too. I only saw four of the speeches on RawStory.com; they were superior to almost every speech university students gave in my Basic Public Speaking course over the years. They had to be. They addressed the world, not a classroom nor 75 islanders. Given the motivation and impetus of the occasion they came prepared. They were coached as anyone destined for this kind of notoriety would be rehearsed. The speeches were tailored for the individual’s concerns with the topics they had addressed in previous interviews and public comments. They were short and to the point. They made use of rhetorical flourishes appropriate to the speaker. Mr. Hogg was political, addressing politicians by name. Mr. Wind used the rhetorical trick of repetition with his, “you have chosen death” summations. The steely determination of  Ms. Tarr put the NRA on notice with intellectual force.

Then there was Emma González with the most daring statement of all, silence. As a rhetorical technique it was more theatre than public address. It took a chance most would never take. She began by discussing the six-minutes and twenty-seconds of gunfire, she reads a list of names of the dead, then abruptly stopped talking. The quite absence of words had a force no language could duplicate. Her slightly androgynous short-cropped hair, sedately flaired jacket and torn jeans added to the effect of her gutsy presentation. Her choice had no guarantee of success. She had faith in her choice; that makes her an artist. Whoever the editor of the live broadcast was understood what was happening. They showed the reactions of the crowd and her classmates on stage. The dramatic question on everyone’s mind seemed to change as silent time moved along. A brief chant begins and dies out. The tears, the occasional flicker in her countenance, the movement from one thought to the next was clear – it told the audience she was doing this with intent. We needed to wait to learn the reason behind this choice. You could see the questions in those reaction shots: Is she OK?, What’s wrong?, What is she doing? This is intentional isn’t it, but why? I’M GETTING NERVOUS. Please explain what is going on. The alarm goes off, she speaks again and there is a collective deep breath from everyone. She makes a simple declarative statement: “The shooter has ceased shooting and will soon abandon his rifle, blend in with the students as they escape and walk free for an hour before arrest. Fight for your life, before it’s someone else’s job.” then walks off stage. The camera follows as she falls into the arms of two friends who seem to say, “It worked! You did it!” I had tears in my eyes during the silence and as the video ended. It was powerful.

One clear thought. Short evocative statements. Clean and clear ideas.

Today the NRA is crying sour grapes about the march calling, “carnival” about the atrocities of children who want to live. The bitter, sour, old men look childish in doing so. To use that particular word with its latin derivation, ‘of the flesh,’ is grossly inappropriate. These kids watched as guns destroyed the flesh of their classmates and teachers in a brutal way. To use it here is sadistic. The Republican puppet master, the NRA, has devolved into the most sadistic force in society; whatever good may have been present at its inception has fled and taken all the common sense and morality with it.

Trump Gunners

Trump Gunners are a class of classless politicians who are owned by Trump-touting corporations and the NRA. They are for sale to the highest bidder. They wear a fake religious facade, offering prayers not action. Their hearts are made of stone and self interest. They repeat lies. Please vote them out.

Trump’s approach to the recent high school shootings is to condemn mental illness. The implication of this approach is that those of us with a mental illness must be dominated by his authoritarian powers, monitored and controlled. This is not the approach mental health advocates support. Trump has proven himself to be a broad category kind of guy; the variety of folks in the category of say, immigrant escape his awareness and are painted with his big brush of bigotry. He has proven to be unreliable when it comes to making the more refined distinctions involved in the discussion of something like mental illness.

The end result of having our bigotry-inclined president talking about mental illness with his lack of empathy is likely to have a frightening and devastating effect on the image of mental illness in the country. This is not the time to launch an assault on folks who look or act differently in school as his recent statements seem to suggest. Trump is a bully so his authoritarian permission to challenge the odd or unusual people is going to do more damage than good by encouraging other bullies.

Mental health is different from Trump’s deformed bone spurs. Both are a condition of being human, they are examples of many maladies that affect us all. He used his particular malformation to get out of military service, but it didn’t limit him with regard to golf, tennis, or walking around. Society doesn’t cast aspersions upon bone-spurred folks the way it does the mentally ill. We sort out the severity of the circumstance and draw a line: soldiers march, so no bone spurs. It is a clear delineation between what is and what isn’t a limitation. Mental health issues are far more difficult to define, diagnose and regulate. Physical problems like a broken bone can be quickly identified, reset and healed. Depression, anxiety or any other diagnosis in the massive DSM with all of their myriad permutations are highly subjective, so treatment is often trial and error and takes more than plaster and time to heal.

Body chemistry is difficult to understand especially with regard to the brain. Psychiatrist have become pill-pushers and no longer interact through talk therapy; counselors do the therapy but can’t provide sufficient insight to the psychiatrists who spend minimal time deciding what to prescribe. Patients themselves may not be able to articulate the circumstance of their situation with clarity to the intercessory counselor who may not know the right questions to ask. It is hard enough to try to decipher an existing situation without the expectation of predicting future behaviors. So de-bugging the health care system is a real good idea, but it is not the solution to the problem of mass shootings. To use language Trump might understand, there is no collusion between mental health care and the ability to predict violent behavior. (Collusion is the wrong word, but he sure uses it a lot so I assume, given his mental capacity, it is a good substitute for correlation.)

The more pragmatic solution to mass shootings is to limit access to, at a minimum, military (human target) assault guns. Politicians who take money from the NRA, the Trump Gunners, should be voted out of office on that point alone.