Do not show us the candlelit crucifixes dressed in flowers. Or class photos of smiling faces full of innocence. Do not show us the grieving families. “Her smile could light up a room.” Or tell us their stories. “He wanted to be a police officer.” We already know these kids. We know them because they are our children. But unfortunately, learning about the lives of murdered children has never been enough to avoid the arguing, finger-pointing, and forgetting that follows every mass shooting.
So instead, show us something that we cannot escape. Please show us the crime scene photos. We need to see them like we needed to see The Falling Man and the beheading of James Foley. We need to see their mutilated bodies like we needed to see Emmett Till’s mutilated body. Pull us into the nightmare with our fellow Americans. Remind us what is at stake. Looking away is a privilege that we can no longer justify.
We need to see the aftermath. We need to see the pools of blood and imagine their screams. We need to see their lifeless eyes and unrecognizable corpses. We need to see what was left. Even after facing the nightmare, we may not have an answer beyond arguing, finger-pointing, and forgetting. But let’s start with the truth. This time, it has to hurt us. This time, it has to haunt us.
“Not everything that is faced can be changed, but nothing can be changed until it is faced.” — James Baldwin
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