It's not for me - Shawn Loughlin editorial
Over the weekend, Jess asked me if I’d read an article she sent me from The New York Times Magazine. I hadn’t, I told her. She and I are on different schedules these days, though no less occupied.
As Jess tends to Cooper, breastfeeding mostly, she is absolutely busy, though she’s able to catch up on her phone, reading, news, social media, whatever. I, on the other hand, am constantly running around after a very energetic two-and-a-half-year-old girl (when I’m not here producing this fine newspaper for you all). So, she has more screen time than I.
The story in question is a lengthy feature on the crime-scene investigators who came in after the shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary. Its headline is: “They saw the horrific aftermath of a mass shooting. Should we?”
Truth be told, I had seen the story, but didn’t go very far with it. Reading about that kind of horror, especially now, as a father twice over, just isn’t something I can do any longer.
Furthermore, I told her that I’m not the person who needs to read that article. I don’t need convincing that high-powered guns in wide supply can maybe lead to bad outcomes. There are some who hold public office here in Canada, who shill for fanatical Canadian gun rights organizations, who write letters to this very newspaper and plenty of Americans who should give that article a read. But not me.
I don’t need to be convinced. They do. But then again, the people I mentioned above likely wouldn’t look upon a thought-provoking feature from The New York Times Magazine about the aftermath of a mass shooting as anything but Liberal propaganda, paid for by Justin Trudeau and carried out by his trusty media puppets (despite it being an article by an American newspaper, in their minds, somehow, this would still be true).
We have this same conversation among our editorial board. When an election rears its ugly head or a community issue demands our full attention, inevitably it would end up on one of our lists as a possible topic. For a while, we would write these editorials, encouraging you to read up on candidates before you vote or get more involved with your community, but one day we stopped and asked ourselves who benefits from such editorials. If a person takes the time to read our newspaper, specifically the musings on pages four and five, it’s rather certain that they are an engaged citizen who would never miss the chance to make an informed choice at the polls or lend a hand to their community in its time of need.
We feared we were preaching to the choir, as the saying goes.
Watching Roadrunner the other night, the excellent documentary about the life of chef and Parts Unknown host Anthony Bourdain, I was reminded that this was his philosophy on life. He always marvelled at how much you could learn and experience from travelling the world and how, if you took the time, you’d learn that there is much more that we have in common than that which sets us apart. He compared this, during a conversation with former U.S. President Barack Obama over dinner in Vietnam, to Donald Trump’s wall and the worldwide rise in extreme nationalism.
In an early episode of his show, also in Vietnam, Bourdain met with a man who had lost limbs to unexploded ordnance from the Vietnam war, saying every American needed to know about the toll of the war there. Those in Vietnam didn’t need telling, Americans did.
We can’t always reach those who need to be reached, mostly because they are unwilling to be reached. We can try and we can hope.