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  • There have now been two major shootings within just a few miles of where I grew up, my formative home; episodes of violent lunacy that captured national attention.
    I have been far away for both, but in the aftermath I have seen images that have eradicated parts of my memory. Perhaps not eradicated, but changed drastically, obfuscated.
    A school that hosted countless events and where I took a girl to homecoming, another where I attended several unimportant academic functions with friends, a field where I played Little League ball weekly, each transformed into places of tragedy or grief.
    Places that even then were part of a search for meaning, though of a much simpler variety: trying to understand how to talk to people, how to live with the thoughts in my head, where or when I would belong.
    Mental images I have of these places are now colored by news footage.
    I have to dig through pictures of huddled mourners, panicked streams of people flowing out of these buildings and police swarming over the fields where I played to get to the memories of a beautiful, musical summer day, days with friends or picnics or books. Strange how memories that are so tactile and so numerous are overcome by a memory of a television and a news crawl.
    The search for meaning since those adolescent days has become darker and larger. Now these places make me wonder where we are as a people, what can be done, how these things happen.
    Of course, these are answers I will never know.
    But in order to continue, I have to believe I can do something, something to make these acts not only less likely, but impossible.
    For now, I resolve to be aware, to be understanding, to be compassionate, and to be unwavering in this compassion.
    To live as an example, to act out of love and to encourage others to do the same in the hope that these cries for help will be not only heard, but listened to and comforted so they never have to involve a bullet.
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