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In his famous 1949 essay “Cultural Criticism and Society” the German thinker and sociologist Theodor Adorno writes that there can be no poetry after Auschwitz. These very words sprung to mind when I read about the horrific tragedy that happened in Uvalde, Texas. Suddenly everything lost its meaning. Inspiration and hope vanished into nothingness.
The crime was atrocious. Words completely fail to describe it. Thinking about it, trying to imagine it is unbearable. The mind shuts itself down.
Such acts erase millennia of civilisation in one fell swoop. They set us right back in the bleak landscape of inarticulate cries and wanton blows. Strike at random, Strike before they strike you!
But what happened in our structured and welfare-endowed century is infinitely worse. Fuelled by an inexplicable hate, influenced by movie clichés and armed for body-to-body combat, the teenage gunman charged into ― an elementary school and took the lives of nineteen children and two adults by simply squeezing on a trigger.
Most of us are parents. Geography and chance has spared us from driving our children to Robb Elementary School on Tuesday May 24, saying to them “I love you” and giving them a hug expecting to pick them up a few hours later. But this is not the way to think, from the safe side of the fence, because in reality there is no fence. Only odious, toxic swamps of pretences and inaction, pits of monstrous interests which pose a constant threat to every step we take.
Our primary duty is to drain these swamps and that calls for a panhuman effort, a concerted endeavour on all levels, from legislators to manufacturers to consumers. We have the reason and education to act as sentient citizens and feel responsible for what happens around us. “To deny responsibility, means to hold no one responsible” as Ludwig Wittgenstein put it. Our greatest weapon is our conscience, and we are all equipped with it. Let us raise it high above everything else.
What happened in Uvalde, Texas has happened before and can happen again. It is up to each one of us to put an end to it, to eradicate this deadly plague from the face of the Earth. We have done it with great success against invisible, insidious enemies such as the bacilli of infectious and debilitating diseases. But here the enemy is visible, metallic, affordable and dead easy to operate. A fact that calls for an earnest, conscientious reaction on the part of all. Admittedly a difficult task but not an altogether impossible to achieve.
My boys are both grown ups, with their own families. They were raised in a continent that abhors the gun culture. Their generation defines the future as every young generation does. We, the old generation, still have a share and a role to play in their lives.
What’s written on this page is a father’s plea, a voice in the wilderness of interests, as I am sure many would say, ― but a plea, nevertheless.
Athens, Greece - firstname.lastname@example.org
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