RABBIT RAMBLINGS: Facing the horror of war and violence

It has been a while since the terrible shootings at that elementary school in Newtown, Conn., and we’ve all wrung our hands and carried on about the horror of it, the murders of 20 young school children and the six teachers by a disturbed young man. We live in a country that more or less allows this sort of thing to happen because we allow people to have incredibly murderous weapons and unlimited access to bullets. It really upsets me to hear the gun advocates using Second Amendment arguments to justify their total rejection of restrictions on the availability of such weapons. My own brother and other friends own guns, and though I don’t understand some people’s love for them, I know that a complete ban is an impossibility. But my brother doesn’t own one of those scary weapons that are like machine guns, and it seems to me that no one has any need of such totally lethal guns that are designed for killing people.

What brings all this up for me is something that happened to another friend of mine who is an immigrant from Vietnam. She had undergone tremendous hardships during our war in Vietnam, and has worked like crazy to establish herself and her family here in the U.S. It was always amazing to me that she was able to become the reasonable, gracious, understanding adult that she now is. The Vietnam War is now part of the distant past in our history, and young people probably don’t know much about it, and those of us who opposed it at the time still think about that war as a huge American mistake that ended up with countless numbers of Vietnamese and Americans dead. We know how much it cost in human life, money, and to the American reputation as upholder of peace and justice.

Well, my friend learned about the Newtown killings, and this triggered some memories of her life during the Vietnam War. She flashed back onto scenes that she had forgotten or repressed for years, particularly seeing a young cousin who was gunned down before her eyes. She says that she cannot stop seeing it over and over right now, and she has been dragged down into such a depressed state that she had to be hospitalized. She thought of going to Connecticut to express her sympathy to the parents of those murdered children. She is slowly pulling herself out of her depression, but the images remain.

What can we say to comfort this person? We can only be there for her while she confronts the past and its horrors, lives it again, over and over. She is resilient, and I know that she will pull through, but I think of all the peoples in the world who have gone through some of the same things, and of the people who are experiencing the same kinds of traumatic events today. And I realize that we in America have been very lucky in not having lived through shooting wars on our soil, at least not since the Civil War, and that was a bloody horror, too. Our fighting men, of course, haven’t been so lucky, but the rest of us civilians have managed to escape warfare.

On the other hand, we do have a lot of shooting going on in our country every day. If the statistics are to be believed, shooting deaths and maiming are a daily occurrence, the numbers mounting into the thousands every year. We only become aware of it when something particularly horrible happens, like Newtown. As the fight for gun control revs up, I think that pictures of the dead bodies of those children ought to be shown to the congressmen and women who will be debating gun control. Can you imagine a tiny body torn apart by 10 bullets? Shouldn’t we be doing all we can to make it more difficult for such a thing to happen again?

I imagine that the ones who are going to be haunted for a long time by the sight of those small bodies ripped apart by all those bullets are the first responders, those who had to go into that school and investigate and record the carnage. Maybe we all ought to be exposed to the sights, and then we might be moved to action in this gun battle ourselves.

Chizu Omori, of Oakland, is co-producer of the award-winning film “Rabbit in the Moon.” She can be reached at chizuomori@gmail.com. The views expressed in the preceding column are not necessarily those of the Nichi Bei Weekly.

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