I've been thinking about fidelity recently. I've been thinking about the garden-variety marriage/partnership variety because of my lovely friend Sash over at Inked In Colour, whose heart is broken but still fierce and wonderfully loving. Fidelity of the body, of the heart, of the partnership, of the family, of the promise of a future together.
But after this past weekend I've been thinking about a larger-scale kind of fidelity, the kind that happens at the social, cultural and global level, where there is an often unspoken set of guidelines for humanity. Call them natural law, call them commandments, call them common sense, call them whatever you will. When these fundamental pacts are broken, we all grieve.
The most fundamental of these for me is that children are off limits. If you hurt them, if you kill them, and if you do it en masse - you have broken fidelity with society, with humanity. You have been unfaithful to what we share, what we all hold dear even when everything else about us is different.
You can feel that shift in the world when these things happen. This rent in our humanity is mended and in most cases made stronger by the pulling-together, the shared grief, the stories of courage and the spirit of generosity that follows, but you can still feel that shift.
I believe that violence and crime are inevitable in particular circumstances. Where there are many people living together, where there are competing values and religions, where there are poor services for mental illness, where there is poverty and wealth living side by side, where there is a culture of binge drinking, where there is a culture of gun rights and idolisation of people who solve problems with guns and violence, there will always be violence. But there doesn't have to be... or at least, there doesn't have to be so much.
I believe the phrase 'guns don't kill people' is stupid. Most people wouldn't kill people if they didn't have the gun in the first place. There are exceptions (as the knife attacks in Henan Province in China shows - although these weren't fatal), but guns can make cowardly people brave.
The only commonality between all of the school shootings around the world is access to a gun. Not metal music, not violent video games, not even mental illness. Access to a gun.
Think about it.
Then go and badger your government representative to start making things better in whatever flawed area you wish. Doesn't have to be about gun control, because quite a few countries already have this one down.
Then go and hold your children close and teach them to be kind and compassionate and to solve their problems another way.
Then go and call your mother. Or someone else's mother because they all need to know that their kids are okay.