12.18.2012

What's Happening?

Several friends and family members have remarked that I must have felt relieved having my kids home with me last Friday when news of the horrible school massacre hit us.  It's true.  I was extremely grateful that my children were busy working on math and playing with Legos while I stood in the kitchen sobbing as I listened to the news.  Connecticut is a long way from here, but the tragedy hit all of us close to home.

I read a few articles today on the shooting, and find myself disturbed by some of the words and phrases popping up repeatedly: survivalists, "preppers", target practice, gun range, homeschooling, introvert.  These words and phrases do not necessarily define me or my family, but they are familiar in my life and among my community; maybe in yours too.  Like the mother of the shooter, I too have discussed with friends about preparing for an uncertain future, I have enjoyed target practice at the gun range, and I have pulled my children out of public school.

Dear "Media", should I be sleeping with one eye open?

My heart aches for all of the victims as my mind tries to comprehend the inexplicable.  I want to hear about the facts as they emerge, but I'm sickened by the knee jerk reactions promoted by the media.  Even my favorite radio show, Marketplace, tried to make a point Friday evening about how there are almost three times as many gun shops in the United States as there are Starbucks in the world.  What does that even mean?  That we should buy Frappuccinos, not guns?

We might never make sense of what happened in Sandy Hook, or the media's coverage of the event.  What I can do is grieve for those poor children and teachers, and for the mother and son who must have been terribly troubled.  I can talk openly with my children about the tragedy, as well as personal safety, mental illness, guns, and legislature.  I can focus on what is good and right in the world, because we can't get rid of the evil and wrong.  Most importantly, I can build up what I believe is the best antidote to many of society's woes: community.  We are strengthened, in good times and bad, by those around us.

Are you ready for some good news?  Thanks to the awesome CrossFit community I have become a part of this past year, I had the opportunity to compete in my very first athletic competition last Saturday.

first place!

My partner and I took first place among 36 co-ed teams!  There's nothing quite like beating men to make a woman feel strong.  It was an amazing event (sadly honoring a police officer killed in the line of duty), and I was honored to compete alongside so many strong, dedicated athletes.  You can read more about the event here.  Now that I've had my first taste of winning, I can't wait to compete again.  Time to train harder so I'll be harder to beat.

Final note: Among the goodies in my winner's bag was a Starbucks gift card.  I will not be using it to buy Frappuccinos.  I will, however, tune into Marketplace tonight and give Kai Ryssdal another chance.  Hopefully he'll stick to what he knows and avoid knee-jerk style analogies.  Show me the money, Kai.

31 comments:

  1. Still so proud you guys took first place :) I have a good feeling it won't be the last time! Also, I too have been having a hard time with the Media covering the school shooting... they always describe the shooter in the same way "shy and awkward"... that pretty well describes me..and also just gives us shy and awkward people another thing to worry about lol

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    Replies
    1. oh amber, you get exactly what i'm trying to say. i miss you at the gym!

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  2. Congratulations on your victory Molly. You belong on a podium.

    I heard Marketplace mention the gun-shops-to-Starbucks ratio. My understanding of the point Mr Ryysdal was making is first, Starbucks is recognized as blanketing America. It is everywhere. We are drowning in coffee shops. There are street intersections that have a Starbucks on three of the four corners, and shopping malls where Starbucks stores face each other such that you can walk out of one, cross the walkway straight into another, so clearly they must be moving a lot of product. Starbucks, unlike gun shops, sells a perishable product used daily by a majority of Americans. So, by way of comparison, even though we are tripping over Starbucks shops, there are a lot more places to buy guns. So when someone shoots up a bunch of six-year-olds the first thought is, “What?How?Why?” And part of the answer is, “We have more guns than coffee, is how.” Of course, that is only a small part of the answer.

    I don’t blame the news media for what they do. As always, I blame “we the people” for whatever is wrong. The news media are simply trying to make a buck selling something we the people want. If we the people shelled out millions of dollars for silence then you would be able to hear a pin drop, but NO! WE WANT OUR LOUD, FAST, INCOMPLETE, PARTIALLY TRUE, BREATHLESS, SENSATIONAL HEADLINES NOWWWW!! If we paid millions of dollars for a thoughtful collection of well-researched facts devoid of error then we wouldn’t recognize the news media we pay for today. “The news” is a perishable product – hence the expression, “That’s yesterday’s news” to mean “I’m not interested.” If someone said there was a mass shooting, and you tuned in a news program to get some details and they calmly said, “We will gather the facts and let you know when we have ascertained the full truth,” then you and I and everyone else would be cranking the dial to the next station and the next until we found someone breathlessly telling us a bunch of incomplete fragments of the truth as we try to make sense of a senseless situation. That is what we the people want in the moment.
    -- Mark V.

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    1. you are absolutely right, mark. it is "we the people" who are the problem. it was the person who committed the crime that is the problem. my frustration with the media coverage is that they're missing the mark (bad pun, sorry). after not listening to the news all weekend, tuning in monday morning was a surprise. almost everything reported friday was wrong. did you hear that it took ten years for a comprehensive, fact checked report to be written about the columbine tragedy? it's true, we want our news to be delivered as fast as we want our baristas to make our coffee drinks.

      while i understand the point mr. ryssdal was trying to make, i just didn't like it. i had a knee jerk, emotional response to his final note that surprised me, especially after hearing it so shortly after the report about the string of school stabbings in china (which i hadn't heard anything about until after the sandy hook massacre). i cannot compute all of these events, but somehow adding another unrelated factor to the equation is supposed to add some perspective. hmmm.

      george and i tallied up the starbucks and gun shops in our town and they're about the same. but go down the hill to loomis and there are several times as many gun shops as starbucks. funny. shocking, even. honestly, i'd like to see less of both shops!

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  3. Good post. Thank you for your voice of reason.

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  4. I did read more about the shootings after our time together. Of course I sobbed while reading. There really isn't anything I can say to explain the hole it leaves in my heart, the whole mess.

    But, driving home from you guys, the most gorgeous winter dusk sky, and being connected to you, listening to my kids talk about all they did and thought, thinking of all the things we share as friends and between our families ~ that's the kind of thing that keeps me moving forward.

    Train smart, muscles.

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    Replies
    1. yes. accentuate the positive, eliminate the negative. or as my new favorite quote on pinterest suggests: "the less you give a damn the happier you will be."

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  5. Congratulations Molly! That is awesome.

    I see Mark V.'s point about not blaming the media because they're just catering to what the people want...but then again, it seems that sometimes it's the media (or the handful of individuals that own/run the media in our country) that is deciding what to tell the public they want. I don't know...it's a bit of which came first, the chicken or the egg.

    What I do know is that I am wondering Why? too...and I haven't heard very much intelligent discussion on that. Mostly it's gun control and mental health politics, which are important issues to me and ones I do think need more attention...but we're dealing with a specific event here and I would appreciate some specific inquiry and information. Sigh.

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  6. seriously? a slaughtering of kindergarteners/crossfit post? must be a first, well done.

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  7. forget everything else, dad is a proud dad. congrats on a great finish. you are always first place for me.
    love
    dad

    ReplyDelete
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  9. yes, get rid of those guns and drink more coffee.......(fair-trade not Starfucks)

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  10. We avoid the news. Period. No t.v. or radio. Naturally, we heard about the tragedy, because all important news is discussed. The talk with our children focused on how a troubled young man, made some horrific decisions. And we talked about how the world will be seeking to blame (the mother, the school, guns, gun shops) but it all comes down to the troubled young man and his decisions. Fortunately we are a family who is able to travel extensively, and we see first hand that there is exponentially more goodness in the world than bad, and that our country is far and away the best place to live on this planet. I always say this to you, but your tone is beautiful and I appreciate it.

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    1. thank you for your kind words and for your perspective. i am a public radio junkie and i don't get to travel often, but i too believe that there is more good than bad, and that we are privileged to live where we live. i think the most important issue to be discussed, not just right now but at all times, is personal responsibility.

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  12. i always love your posts, thanks molly! and personally did not see any issue whatsoever with the combination of topics :) a few things: i see mark's point and do agree that much of the nature of the media is formed around the nature of its audience, and what gets the most draw. but i don't think everything is based on that. for example, i think just as many people would be tuning in if the media were focusing on a link between psychotropic meds and mass killings rather than guns and mass killings. there is a lot of story and room for sensationalism there, too. nearly all mass killings in recent years have been committed by people under the influence of psychiatric drugs, yet the media doesn't touch that (aside from the mention of "mental illness" but that's quite a different spin than suggesting the meds themselves might be to blame). there are many other examples of this (election coverage, anyone?), and the media is largely responsible for the forming of public opinion through what/how they cover the news. their power of sway is huge, and consider who owns all the major news sources, or just the fact that they are all owned by such a small, centralized group, and it does make one wonder about the existence of corruption and ulterior motives. but that aside, even if the media IS just simply catering to what garners the most attention (and it undeniably is often doing exactly that), that still should not release them from culpability. should drug traffickers also be let off the hook since they, too, are simply meeting people's demands? is that a fair analogy? i'm not sure, but perhaps food for thought, atleast :)

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    Replies
    1. Alex, I had not heard about a link between mass murders and psychiatric drugs so I Googled it and found multiple references that all seem to track back to one source – Alex Jones at ‘InfoWars.com’ & ‘The Drudge Report.’ I don’t think that is the best haven if we want to avoid sensationalism and ulterior motives. But if there is indeed a link between psychiatric drugs and mass murders (not just an InfoWars attempt to divert the conversation) I am confident a lawyer somewhere will make that case in pursuit of a big payoff.
      I am curious to hear what you think the real-life consequences should be for “the media” and their culpability in reporting attention-getting stories. I think “The Media” is often used as a shape-shifting boogieman rather than what it really is: a constantly shifting collection of humans who gather and report information, plus another collection of people who are pseudo-media that gather and report distracting or purposely misleading information. Rather than just shake our fists at the vague “media” let’s consider what it is we actually want.

      The definition of “culpability” is: guilty, criminal, meriting condemnation or blame, especially as wrong or harmful. What do you think the individual humans who work in “the media” are criminally guilty of? There are laws against drug trafficking, but except for libel/slander I cannot imagine what we would charge people with for reporting on mass murders and the guns that were used rather than their reporting on a link between murders and psychiatric drugs – a link that may or may not actually exist.

      But, for the sake of argument, let’s assume there is indeed a link between psychotropic drugs and mass murders. What is the answer then? Should we outlaw psychotropic drugs? No more Prozac or Zoloft? No more Ritalin or Xanax or Lithium? Wouldn’t that be anti-capitalist? And if we agree to outlaw drugs that are linked to mass murders, doesn’t that lead us right back to outlawing the guns that are also linked to mass murders?

      Finally, none of this addresses the hundreds of individual gun-related murders of the less-valued members of society that occur each week across our nation. Sandy Hook got our attention because it was sensational and therefore was reported on by “the media,” just as they would report on a man who died if he was eaten by a shark at the beach but would not report on him if he died on the freeway driving to the beach or if he died in his sleep before he got in his car to drive to the beach. Those sorts of stories don’t sell, don’t make money because they don't give the audience the jolt of adrenaline we crave.
      -- Mark V.

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  25. Hi old friend. And hello, victory! Super huge congrats on your win. I'm so proud so proud of you, know your whole journey to this point (I mean your crossfit journey, not you WHOLE life journey!). Inspirational.

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