Thursday, January 20, 2011

Modern Shrine

The Other Family Human and I drove to Tucson, and I dropped her off at a meeting. Of course I was aware of what happened in Tucson two weeks ago and also that I was very near the spot where it happened, but I wasn't thinking about that. I was thinking that I saw a Bank of America across the street and that I was low on cash. So I crossed the street. As I reached the opposite corner I saw a collection of wilting flowers, burnt out candles, stuffed toys, and notes. I looked up and saw the sign that said "La Toscana Village"; the same sign that I had seen on endless television news shows as they covered the shootings which killed six and wounded thirteen others on that Saturday morning. I realized that I was only yards away from the Safeway store where it happened. I don't think of myself as a voyeur, but it seemed almost callous to be that close to the site of the mayhem and not walk over to bear witness. The Safeway looked just like any other suburban supermarket in any suburban community in America, although the surrounding foliage does limit the setting to the Southwest. Another shrine was set up in the exact spot where the shooting had taken place, more balloons, stuffed toys, and hundreds of notes and cards. People were driving and walking by to pay homage. People were also walking in to do their grocery shopping. I stood there for a few moments, thinking of the pain caused by one man with a gun and God only knows what going on in his head, of how an ordinary day can become life-changing in a matter of seconds and of what philosopher Hannah Arendt named "the banality of evil". Then I went back to the bank, used their ATM, and went on about my way.

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