There’s a memory that I just can't seem to shake. I’m in a park, talking to a friend on a beautiful summer’s day. We’re chatting about nothing important, laughing, feeling great on a gorgeous afternoon. After a few minutes, my friend’s son, I'll call him Jack (not his real name) rides up on his bike. I like Jack. He always has a grin on his face and is a delight to be around. After a couple of minutes of banter, he takes off to go home.
Jack was murdered at Columbine High School, on April 20, 1999.
Every time there's a mass shooting, and there have been dozens of them since Columbine, I remember Jack and that day in the park. The Aurora theater shooting took place 10 minutes away from my house, and Jack's smile was in my head for weeks. Whenever I hear of a another senseless shooting, the memory of that summer day plays out in agonizing detail.
Valentine's Day turned out to be a terrible day for all of us. I spent the afternoon and evening weeping, angry, confused and frustrated by the fact that this rampant insanity is seemingly allowed by forces more powerful than the agony and grief of the thousands and thousands of mourners who lose someone to such violence.
This is a sickness that grips our cities, our rural areas and our suburbs. The disease is rampant in Chicago and on the coasts. It has spread to sleepy, picture-postcard towns and has struck in mighty cities that never sleep. It is always present and lurks around every corner. It is an atrocity.
What could possibly be more powerful than the accumulated grief of an entire nation as it watches its innocent citizens be murdered? I ask that question of myself constantly, and the only answer I can come up with is a complete lack of conscience and an allegiance to special interest groups that have bought the souls of the very people responsible for protecting us.
My memory of Jack has run in a loop for days. I can't decide if I want it go away, or if I should cling onto it for dear life. It's become much more than a simple memory. Jack has become a symbol of what's right with the world, falling into the clutches of everything that's wrong, and it tears my heart to shreds.
Why hasn't anything changed in almost 20 years? How can we, as the most powerful nation in the world, allow such atrocities to occur without genuine, concerted attempts to actually stop the carnage?
I have a sense that my recurring memory will be with me forever, as will be memories for all who’ve lost someone to violence, torn away for no reason. They are part of us and I now realize that that is how it has to be. Memories can spur us forward to do whatever we can to change the paradigm. Only by standing together and not being distracted can we bring changes that need to be made. It's up to us.
I promise you, Jack. I’ll never forget.
Mo Abdelbaki has been a student of metaphysics for over fifty years. He studies and practices Tarot, Vedic Astrology and life. He was once considered a long-haired, bearded freak. As he submits to the occasional hair cut, he's no longer considered long-haired.