So here’s the thing… you’re away from things for a little while, maybe even out of town. But you’re not completely incommunicado, because there’s always a computer and the Internet. One morning, you log into a popular social media website, say Facebook, maybe, and you learn that a friend has been shot. That almost requires italics. Shot. There are not a lot of details, because of course the friend is not posting them; he’s busy being in the intensive care unit of a local hospital. But the details other friends post seem encouraging, and eventually the friend himself announces, also through this popular social media site, that he’s due to have surgery but he’s lucky to be alive. So things are encouraging, even though this friend has been (and we’ll add an intensifier here) actually shot. Let’s also posit that this friend may not live all that far from you, maybe all of a mile, although you yourself may not be anywhere near there at the moment.
So you sit in an air conditioned bedroom, laptop on lap, and you wonder how this all came to pass. This sort of detail is important. See, you realize, somewhat guiltily, that you’re sitting there thinking more about yourself, now that the initial shock has waned. You think, if this was some sort of dispute, or maybe a crazy person known by the friend, it’s bad… but if it’s some stranger who might have made a different turn and ended up on a different street, not far away…. Is your safe though somewhat in decline neighborhood really not all that safe? And you can’t even give that notion much credence because you just don’t know, and you really can’t know. It’ll be awfully forward to try to find out unless the story of this event is freely told by the friend involved. And yet… and yet… it doesn’t matter, because the question is always the same: How did the world get to this point? You’ve never known anyone who has been shot.* It’s pretty unnerving.
Things and meanings will be revealed in the fullness of time. Other things will happen in the meantime that may sway the overall story one way or another. One event is important but is only a point on the timeline. An interesting angle to this is, twenty years ago you wouldn’t even know, especially from a distance of a few hundred miles, but the ubiquity of the Internet today allows you to know. It may be that answers will be available in no time at all. Or not. We may know more of the world, but the underlying uncertainty remains.
* Well, there was the one cousin, in all those years where you hadn’t seen him… another unknown story, really.