Names

Their mothers and fathers gave them names. Hugged them. Fed them. Carried them. They sent them off to school, packed their lunches, corrected their homework, and signed their tests. Their brothers and sisters shared their rooms, inspired them, fought with them, borrowed their clothes, and protected them.

They had friends, co-workers, bosses, employees, partners, husbands, and wives. They drove cars, took buses, checked books out of the library, and rented movies.

They lived in Columbine, Ft. Hood, San Bernadino, Charleston, Sandy Hook, Orlando, and too many other cities to name.

So we will cry and wear ribbons, light candles and say prayers. We will remember them and care for those they leave behind. And these are good things. These are appropriate actions.

But will we learn anything?

Will we stop to talk about how this happens? Will we talk about guns? Will we talk about the bullets? Will we talk about the hate, the indifference, or the banality of it all?

We have to resist the urge to let the talking heads on television reduce it to allegiance to a foreign movement. We have to talk about it, even as we talk about the victims.

It’s not enough to say that love wins.

We have to act as though it really does.

And that requires action, conversation, and maybe even change.

The headlines will list the number of victims. Headlines always do.

But the numbers had names.

And they deserve more than headlines.