This Is Not About Hockey

Spiritual Smart Aleck


Happened to be watching CBC, Canadian television, the other day when the Stanley Cup playoffs came on.

Translation for those of you too American to know: the Stanley Cup playoffs are the World Series, the Superbowl, the Final Four, the World Cup, of hockey.

It was the San Jose Sharks against the Colorado Avalanche.

As the teams got ready to begin their match, the announcer asked for a moment of silence in honor of those injured and killed in the shooting yesterday in Colorado. The arena fell silent.

Shooting? In Colorado? Yesterday?

Then the moment was over, and the match began, but I was still sitting here stunned. Quickly googled “shooting in Colorado,” and it came right up – shooting at STEM School, in Highlands Ranch, Colorado, two shooters, one student dead, and eight injured.

The student who died in this shooting was Kendrick Castillo, 18, who lunged at one of the shooters to pin him against the wall. Castillo was shot, and he died, but the other two students who attacked the shooter subdued him and were unhurt.

A second shooter was taken down on another floor by a security guard before anyone was hurt.

Aside from the fact that this took place about two suburbs away from where one of my sons and his family live, what got me was that I did not hear about this shooting until a day after it happened, and then on Canadian television, at the beginning of a hockey match.

Are mass shootings so common that they barely make the news?

No, they make the news, but not with the splash and horror they once did. Ho-hum, another day, another tragic shooting.

Granted I don’t pay attention to the news as I once did. I decided a while back that to have any peace of mind, I needed to stop paying attention, and stop reacting, to every blow.
I get it: Earth’s environment is in the crapper; there is war, flood, famine, earthquake, tsunami, tornado, pestilence … and our country is currently at the mercy of a corrupt and dishonest government. The best government money can buy.

There is a tragic triumph of fundamentalist religious sects in many parts of the world, including our own country, that are typified by simplistic and non-analytical thinking. I.e., a willingness, indeed a mission, to kill anyone who disagrees with them.

I don’t know when the forces of good will be able to reclaim some control in our country, although I do hope and believe that will happen. I do. I don’t know if I will live to see it. I do know that pendulums swing, and that human culture is dynamic, not static.

So. There are mass shootings, but they are not such big news anymore. A friend pointed out to me that there is now an effort by the media not to give shooters the attention they are seeking. This is to give potential shooters less motivation. This may partially explain more discreet news coverage.

Out of curiosity I googled, “How many mass shootings have there been in the United States in 2019?” A Wikipedia entry came up.

Different news sources and statisticians have varying criteria for what makes a mass shooting. The most common denominator for a mass shooting is four people shot. Wikipedia counts incidents considered mass shootings by at least two of the sources they listed.

We don’t believe everything we read on the internet, do we? But let’s call this a near, inexact, estimate. Between January 1, 2019, and April 30, 2019, the total number of mass shooting events in the United States: 105. Total number of people killed: 120. Total number of people wounded: 387.

Between May 1 and May 8, there were eleven mass shootings. Five dead, one of whom was Kendrick Castillo. Forty-nine wounded.

Every number represents a human being, a real person, like you or me, darlin’. These numbers do not include incidents in which one, two, or three people were shot.

Schools conduct active shooter drills these days. The students at STEM School asked when the alarm went off, “Is this real or a drill?” Those who could hear gunshots texted to others, “This is real.”

Tip for students and teachers: every drill is the real thing. You hope not, but act like it is. That’s why you’re having drills, so you don’t give some lunatic the pleasure of ending or ruining your life.

May there never be an active shooter at your school, or anywhere else for that matter. May the forces of good prevail sooner rather than later.

San Jose beat Colorado 3-2 that night, by the way, but it’s still a long way to the Stanley Cup. Don’t break out the celebratory Molson’s yet.