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Are we unfeeling monsters, or merely rational actors? - The Annals of Young Geoffrey: Hope brings a turtle [entries|archive|friends|userinfo]
Young Geoffrey

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Are we unfeeling monsters, or merely rational actors? [Nov. 6th, 2018|03:18 am]
Young Geoffrey
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There was a shooting on my street a few nights ago. Or rather, mornings. It happened around 07:30 on Monday, apparently, literally less than half a block from where we live in Ottawa's Centretown.

I slept right through it, and so did Raven, but she took a picture of the police cars protecting the block that had been roped off and I found that on my phone when I woke up a couple of hours later.

The cops were still there when I went to work (see photo, above) and were still there when I returned from work at around 02:00 the next morning. In fact, they were there when I went to work on Wednesday afternoon, though Raven reported that they had finally gone when she got home from work later on.

We since learned that the shots were fired at a house, and that one person was wounded. No one was killed.

In fact, it was a bad couple of days for gun violence here in Ottawa, with three separate shootings happening over a couple of days. But I am not here to write a treatise on why I am unsurprised that violent crime seems to be on an upswing 20 years after Mike Harris' government slashed welfare rates by 20% and generally led the charge of austerity in Ontario.

I am immediately interested in my reaction to such violence happening so close to home — literally close to home — and in my reaction to it, and Raven's reaction to it.

In short I didn't react. I was mildly curious, and vaguely hopeful that no one had been hurt or killed, but that was pretty much it. I wasn't frightened, nor was I suddenly worried that our neighbourhood was in any fundamental way changed for the worse.

Shit happens, as they say, and for once it had happened just up the street from me. From us.

Then, when I came in last night (early Wednesday morning), I saw that Raven had left out for my edification, a Crime Stoppers pamphlet, a small piece of blue paper with contact information for a social service agency offering crisis counselling and a double-sided, legal-size information sheet titled Neighbourhood Trauma: What to do when a violent or traumatic incident happens, offering advice and reassurance that it is okay to be upset. (See photo below.)

Three information sheets, delivered post-'traumatic event'

Which made me briefly wonder (and not for the first time), Is there something wrong with me? Should I be upset that someone was shot only a few doors away from where I live and while I slept?

As usual, I pretty quickly dismissed that worry. Like car accidents, violence does happen sometimes, and there is no logical reason to be more upset that it happened to occur in close physical proximity to me, than when it happens in the Byward Market or somewhere in Hintenburgh.

But then, I realized that, due to our schedules (Raven works 9-5, I work 14:00 to one or two in the morning, Monday through Thursday), we hadn't actually talked about what had happened.

Could it be that Raven was upset? Might she be dreaming of looking for counselling even as I warmed up the delicious home-made soup she'd left out for me? (The main meal — the last of our harvested Chinese vegetable Raven doesn't know the English name of, braised lotus root and a few slices of fried beef on a bed of rice (yes, she treats me well!) I would leave for breakfast. But I digress.)

So, when I had a few minutes to spare at work on Wednesday evening, I sent her a text asking if she had some time to talk.

She did, and I got quickly to the point. And as I'd expected (after almost nine years together I think I know her pretty well), she was no more upset or "traumatised" than I was. She almost laughed when I asked her, though she wished the CBC would do a better job of finding out the details of what happened, and why.

She did laugh, when I mentioned the word traumatised (which I see now isn't included in that info sheet; rather, it refers to a "traumatic event", but never mind that).

Point is: are we weird? In that sense? (We're definitely both kind of weird in other, not necessarily shared, senses.)

How have you reacted when a "traumatic event" has happened near you? Did you shrug your shoulders and ponder statistics as I did, or did you have a more visceral reaction?

Whether you did, or didn't, you should have a cookie for having read so far. The ones in the photo below contain chopped green onions in place of chocolate chips. And yet, they were delicious!

Raven made cookies and filled them with chopped green onions!

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