State police are attempting to determine who pulled the trigger in a shooting that left one man dead and three others wounded in a small coastal town in Maine last weekend. Gunfire erupted early Sunday morning, as gunfire will. Oddly enough, residents reportedly were not shaken. Maybe that's because these kind of incidents are becoming commonplace in the upper right hand corner of our nation. Especially since Maine records about twenty-four homicides per year.
Twenty-four. For the whole state. Why aren't the residents shaken? Here in Oakland we have had months with twenty-four homicides. One city. Not the biggest city in the state. The shooting that took place in Lamoine, Maine was news that made the papers and was splashed all over Al Gore's Internet. Murder in Maine. That same story would be met with utter disregard here in the Bay Area. Comments like, "New day, same story," and "Do they just copy the story and put in different names?" meet these kinds of events in Oakland. We are resigned to it.
"The death of one is a tragedy," wrote the poet, "The death of a million is just a statistic." The blur that becomes urban living is precisely the distinction between feeling the suffering of others and tuning it out. Sometimes I have to pinch myself to remember that every life has value. Many moons ago, a friend of mine suggested that it would be entirely appropriate for video games to include video game funerals for all the video game victims of video game violence. If we were all asked to reflect on the loss of life in Maine, in Oakland, in Afghanistan. Not statistics. Tragedies.