12/14/12

"I'd Just be the Catcher in the Rye and All."

Finding Comfort in Books: The Catcher in the Rye
The Newton, Connecticut Elementary School Tragedy



Tragedy struck today in the form of the death of 26 individuals in Newton Connecticut. A masked gunman entered an elementary school with intention to kill and 18 of those individuals were small school children between the ages of 5 and 10.

This breaks my heart for so many reasons.

Ever since I heard about the Columbine high school shooting, I've been completely and whole heartily against the use of guns.
I wasn't raised in a gun-oriented culture, I've never shot a gun much less held a gun, and I have made the conscious decision to give up my  second amendment right, The Right to Bare Arms by never partaking in such activities.  I once dated a boy who was raised in a different culture, a culture more obsessed with violence and guns, where death rates were higher and everyone had weapons in their home. When discussing gun control he made the old time defense "guns don't kill people, people kill people." I have always hated that argument for so many reasons. Yes, a gun can't shoot willy-nilly unless a human pulls the trigger, however guns give people the ability to kill, with only the use of the muscle in their index finger. One shot and a life is done. Guns allow people to play God and frankly I am not okay with that. I'm very lucky to have grown up in a safe community where I have never experience a school shooting first hand, but with the case like this today, we realize that it isn't location that is the problem, but the guns are. 

Things like this, crazy shit like this, is so royally fucked up that I just want to lie in bed all day and want to cry.

I've always related to J.D. Salinger's novel The Catcher in The Rye and on a day like today, I look to the book for comfort.


The novels protagonist, Holden Caulfield, is very much like me, we both hate all things phony and have a deep love for the pure and innocent. So when tragedy like this struck today, I couldn't help but think of the quote that resonates to deep in my heart.

"I keep picturing all these little kids playing some game in this big field of rye and all. Thousands of little kids and nobody's around - nobody big, I mean - except me. And I'm standing on the edge of some crazy cliff. What I have to do, I have to catch everybody if they start to go over the cliff -   I mean if they're running and they don't look where they're going I have to come out from somewhere and catch them. That's all I do all day. I'd just be the catcher in the rye and all. I know it's crazy, but that's the only thing I'd like to be."
-J.D. Salinger, The Catcher in the Rye Ch.22

This quote resonates with me for so many reasons, my eyes welled while retyping it. 
I've always had a love of all things innocent, whether it be my years working with small children at the Honolulu Academy of Art, art school at Linekona, or maybe just the fact that I am still a kid at heart. I just hate when the sweetest most pure things in the world, children, have to deal with tragedy. I think a lot of this stems from the fact that I had a wonderful childhood, that which I am so thankful for. I just played and played on our four acres of farm land, I was provided a loving home, food on the table, sisters to tell secrets too and an education that has gotten me all the way to University. My childhood was so wonderful and it really molded me into the person that I am, so when I read about horrific things like this happening it hurts my heart for two reasons. 1) I feel horrible that these children were robbed of something so wonderful as childhood, not only the children who passed away, but those who had to watch such a traumatic ordeal occur and 2) This overwhelming sense of guilt washes over me, why am I so lucky? Why am I able to live where I live and have the life I have, when innocent children don't get that opportunity. 

And there is something extra special about kindergartners. I assistant taught kindergartners and I realized that they had something that eventually wears off as they grow older. An unbridled love for school and learning, an innocence to all the bullshit in the world, the ability to love people unconditionally and a special knack for paying attention and following the rules. 

Kindergartners are the symbol of all things good in the world
They are as innocent and pure as baby ducks gliding across the pond in Central Park. 

Hearing about such horror, and all the things that happened to them makes me sick.
Thinking about all the christmas gifts under the tree that will remain unopened
or the prospect of who these children could've become
or the years of therapy that the family members will need makes my heart weep tremendously.

I wish I could've scooped all these kids from falling off the field of rye.
I wish I could've saved any person who passed on before their time. 
I just want to save these kids from all horrible things in the world. I want them to enjoy life, play checkers, catch a baseball,  hold hands with another, write poetry, eat tuna sandwiches and laugh and laugh and laugh.
I wish these children could've lived to ponder whats a bananafish?
And to grow old enough to read The Catcher in the Rye themselves!

I just wish that we could perserve innocence like a delicate dried floral bouquet of baby's breath and daisies, to keep preserved forever in a tiny frame, hanging on the wall to always look at.
I understand that a loss of innocence is supposed to happen when growing up, but I bet if we could figure out a way to put the breaks on it we would.

I, like Holden put on my cap as a protective shield from this fucked up world. 
and I wish all the victims from this disaster had their own red hunting cap. 


I understand that taking away guns might not ever happen
but we need to do more to protect the rights of the innocent.

Because while crazy people are crazy, those who are inherently innocent should not suffer. 
Not like these families.
Here are some wonderful words that our President Barack Obama had to say


His words are so poignant and he is just the best president ever.

So to follow what our dear President says, make sure you hug those you love most extra tight tonight and reiterate why you love them and why you are thankful.
Have hope in your heart and thank your lucky stars that you are safe and happy.
Be kind and respectful and express your condolences to any who have suffered.
And if any of you are reading this, I'm very, very sorry for your loss, you do not deserve to go through this.

Also remember that with all tragedy that happens in the world, there are good things too.
Reread The Catcher in the Rye if you have the chance
but even better, pass it on to a friend, books are for sharing, especially a fundamentally awesome book such as this. 

Please stay safe
have a wonderful day.
xoxoxo
Caelan

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