Close your eyes for me and do a little fantasy meditation for a moment.
In the scene, you’re back in a classroom. Maybe it’s your classroom at Franklin School in the second grade. Perhaps it’s St. Cecilia Elementary School and you’re in the third grade. Possibly, it’s Schuyler School your fourth-grade year.
Can you picture it?
Now, envision aside from you, there are 18 children, two adults inside the room. And, from nowhere, the peaceful memory of being back in elementary school is interrupted by a loud popping sound. There’s no way to tell what it is exactly, but it sure has made the adults in the room concerned, so much so they ask all the kids to huddle round on the floor, on the door side of the room, in a way you can’t be seen from the door window.
The popping sound grows louder and it sure does sound like someone is shooting a gun nearby, but the teacher has locked the doors, shut off the lights, and though everyone in the room is silent, there’s a visible fright that has overcome everyone.
But the door is locked and the teacher has turned off the lights, so everyone will be safe.
But out of nowhere, a guy, rather young and scruffy looking, kicks the door in — and suddenly, a man armed with an assault rifle is in the room. He looks around and sees all these frightened kids, huddled together, some crying, others frozen solid in time, others on their phones. Can you hear those conversations?
Perhaps one girl is telling her mommy she’s scared and this scary looking guy just came in. But mom will call 911 to tell them where you are, so you’ll be safe.
But then, one boy who was in an adjacent room hears the scruffy guy with the AR in-hand, shout, “Kids, get ready to die!”
Then, one by one, starting with the 10-year-old on the phone with her mommy, the first shot’s fired. Can you hear the sounds of fear, the shouts of helplessness, the moments of sheer horror? That was the first shot fired — and the girl quickly bleeds out. Her friend tends to her, but is next to be shot. And then, one by one, 18 more times, this guy, 18 years old, shoots every single person in that room.
So in one classroom, a place where maybe you’ve experienced joy, excitement, laughter, everyone is left bleeding — dying — dead. Can you see the room and what it looks like?
The sounds are over. The room is littered with bodies. There’s blood spatter all over the place. The smell is unmaskable, unbearable. The gun guy is still alive — and so are you because you’re only there in a fantasy meditation. But everyone else is dead. Can you see it? Can you feel it?
Now envision for a moment that the classroom you’re in becomes the Senate Chamber at the U.S. Capitol in Washington, D.C. The blood spatter is still there. There are 20 people spread out on the floor, all gone.
Perhaps there’s Mitch McConnell. Mitt Romney. Marco Rubio. Cory Booker. Bob Menendez. Chuck Grassley. Rick Scott. There’s Diane Feinstein. Amy Klobuchar. Ted Cruz. Chris Coons. Chuck Schumer. Can you see Mark Kelly. Dick Durbin. Lindsey Graham. Joe Manchin. Bernie Sanders. Rand Paul. Elizabeth Warren. Tom Cotton.
Some are Democrats. Some are Republicans.
Now, come back from your meditation, thinking this actually happened.
Do you think even this would be enough to get the 80 who remain to take some kind of action, whether it’s over the sales of assault rifles, or the care for the mentally ill?
Would it be enough to enact change? Because the loss of those children and the absolute horrors they and their classmates experience won’t be. Somehow, inexplicably. But again, what if the 20 were the aforementioned adults whose job it is to craft our laws.
Would even that be enough to get someone, somewhere, to do absolutely anything of value?
We can only hope — and I suppose pray, though that hasn’t exactly worked either — we never have to find out.
Learn more about the writer ...
Kevin A. Canessa Jr. is the editor of and broadcaster at The Observer, a place where he has served on and off since 2006. He is responsible for the editorial content of the newspaper and website, the production of the e-Newspaper, writing several stories per week (including the weekly editorial), conducting live broadcasts on Facebook Live, including a weekly recap of the news — and much more behind the scenes. Between 2006 and 2008, he introduced the newspaper to its first-ever blog — which included podcasts, audio and video. Originally from Jersey City, Kevin lived in Kearny until 2004, lived in Port St. Lucie. Florida, for four years until February 2016 and in March of that year, he moved back to West Hudson to return to The Observer full time. Click Here to send Kevin an email.