Restive times

It's been the kind of day that's evocative of summer. Balmy temperatures, neighbors operating lawn-cutting machines. The smell of burning leaves and twigs from a nearby brush fire. I spent much of the day outdoors, patching a divot in the driveway, assembling a shade umbrella for the back porch, and wiping off the deck chairs and table. Physical tasks to quell a restive mind.

A conglomerate of national and international media gathers outside my high school as a DA's investigation into a student's suicide yields charges and arraignment hearings. A school community desperately tries to heal while an impassioned public calls for heads to roll. Slick and self-righteous media figures feign compassion as they grasp at half-truths and call for justice.

It's the story du jour, the outrage of the moment, the latest flaming spectacle. Somewhere under the media light lies nuance and truth. Yet the cameras and microphones pick up simplistic anecdotes, condensed for the masses into 30-second digestible bites. All flash and sensation. Emotion and conviction. We know. We know. We're hundreds of miles away, yet we know. We'll give you your objects of ire. See where our finger points. We're infallible. Omniscience is our coxswain.

Despite the media's barrage, life goes on. Students come to class ready to learn. Their resilience is remarkable. Is learning just a convenient distraction, or is it the nature of the teenage mind to be elastic and malleable, always seeking to absorb a new experience and perspective as world view is created inside expanding neurons?  

Existential thoughts color day-to-day interactions. Justice, redemption, remuneration, repudiation. Reactions, accusations, justifications, recalculation.

Next week will bring arraignments and pleas. A community braces. A nation - and a world - awaits.

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