I contemplated sharing Krista Cox’s poem, ‘On the Occasion of a Bombing, I Just Can’t Bring Myself to Endorse Murder,’ after the next US mass shooting. I wouldn’t have to wait long, I figured, before a man would break his rage across a community, and I’d want you to have the poem, a lens to focus our discussion on rage, guns, repression, toxicity, and power. Certainly, after a bombing, after violence, and anger, Cox’s poem would be calming, a strong and gentle hand to soothe an agitated mind, to still the teeth-clenching ache for retributive violence.
But, what we need to do is read Cox’s poem when nothing has yet happened, and nothing is broken beyond repair. If, when we are calm and thoughtful, we can agree that every person—every person—has merit and every injured soul is redeemable, then maybe we can find ways, be it programs, policies, commitment to shift our culture, to build a cool and calm world beyond “gasoline and pyromania.” A place where we are alight, but never burning.