Cherokee Kid

Jim Alberty is a member of the Bird Clan of the Cherokee Tribe of Oklahoma. Born in Claremore, OK he now lives in Maine, working as a composer, writer and Creative for Apple. He is active in the Casco Bay area arts and education communities as a composer, musician, social dancer and actor.

The Balance

Lee Elementary - my first alma mater
Tonight, rather ill with flu and tolerating an enforced home stay to recover my energy I find it useful to follow events online and write about them in the same place.

The first wave of reactions:

The country reels from the shootings in Newtown CT - horrified, terrified, emotions settling like a flight of birds, momentarily calm and organized then whirring off again. Fight or flight. The horror of contemplating frantic parents rushing to the fire station near Sandy Creek Elementary, slowly seeing others reunite with their children, the sense of despair building as they see all the survivors reconnect.

I can imagine it. I've lost people suddenly, without preparation, even students, but never a child.

I've always served in loco parentis. Your sense of protection is fierce. The loss experienced by these parents must be paralyzing.

You do not know what to do. We watched developments online at the Orchard that Friday and were horrified. I saw in my mind all my ex-students - some of whom work right there in the store - and found fear and love I never knew was there before.

The second wave of reactions are starting to come in now:

Calls to action. Those who were further away, whose loss is not personal but also profound, they reach out. Vigils are held, political positions taken.

Perhaps there will be change. I hope so. I find myself willing to help.

In "Blink - the Power of Thinking Without Thinking" Malcolm Gladwell shares that the 1999 shooting of Amadou Diallo took all of 3 seconds - 41 shots. All them based on a horrible series of false impressions. And, that dramatic depictions of violence never look like that. 

We tell ourselves that guns are used to settle arguments. They're not. They're used to throw tantrums that kill. Guns do not kill people. People kill people using guns. I've had it.

Tonight I believe in the scary things. 

The senseless things that caper and kill and rip the bonds of life asunder. I believe in shadows and the light that causes them. 

In people who stand in light and cast shadows and turn from one to the other and back again - and who can see both the light and dark of those who share the world. 

Knowing that we all can reflect great light and cast great shadows and that though we cannot choose to be all light or all dark we can choose which one we reach out to. 

And that in reaching out to each other we reach out to ourselves.

Perhaps that irrational hope will balance the irrational horror visited on us all.

We shall see.

Portland, Maine