Peggy Aycinena is a freelance journalist and Editor of EDA Confidential at www.aycinena.com. She can be reached at peggy at aycinena dot com.
This world: sometimes knit together by sorrow
July 7th, 2016 by Peggy Aycinena
It was the middle of the morning on a school day in California when the President was shot in November 1963. The principal came over the PA system and announced the President was injured in Dallas and was in surgery. She asked all teachers to suspend classroom activities and wait for further news.
In my class, our teacher told us to take something out to read and sat down at his desk at the front of the room. After a very long time, the principal came back on the PA. The President had died. She asked teachers to help their students understand what had happened.
Our teacher sat very still at his desk for a long time and then stood up. He started to speak, but stopped. He took off his glasses with his left hand and covered his eyes with his right. For at least 10 minutes he stood like that, still and silent with his eyes covered.
The next day there was no school, the black-and-white tv was on all day in the family room. My parents brought home copies of the New York Times and Wall Street Journal and read them cover to cover, along with the San Francisco Chronicle. I also read all of the papers cover to cover as well, and was totally confused.
Almost every single article referred to the “tragedy” in Dallas, almost every article expressed profound sorrow, but I could not understand. Why wasn’t anyone angry? Why didn’t anyone express anger over something that didn’t have to happen.
Now it’s 2016, it’s Thursday night, and it’s happening again. Snipers, Dallas, Parkland Hospital, again. This time it’s not the principal, but a relentless unblinking Internet providing the updates. Nobody knows exactly what’s going on in Dallas, people have been hit and some have died. Those of us who remember 1963 cannot help having a visceral reaction. And the situation in Dallas is not over yet.
Now it’s almost midnight here in Boston, and Dallas just announced yet another policeman has died in surgery. A seriously visceral echo of something that happened so long ago, but this time with a difference.
Here, 53 years later, I finally understand the sorrow, the profound sorrow. This is all too awful for anger. Anger is useless, insufficient, does nothing to ease the sorrow and grief for this sad old world. Anger is totally useless.
Now I am the one who has taken off my glasses and have covered my eyes. Now I am the one standing in the middle of the room, silent and still.