Two Decades Later: Montreal in Mind

I try to make sense of the Stupid in the world, as if having a reason or learning a lesson will somehow make it all so much more comprehensible.

In reality, some things should never be comprehended. Hopefully they never will be.

By Carlos Osorio of TheStar.com, of 20th anniversary memorials on Dec. 6, 2009.

Every year, when December 6th rolls around, and someone somewhere reminds me of the Montreal Massacre that took the lives of 14 women 21 years ago now, I’m inevitably pitched into a morass of contemplation and remembrance.

I was 16 that day.

I was strong, smart, and definitely marching to the beat of a different drummer. It was a bad time in my life, though, just after my parents’ divorce, and I was pretty messed up.

Then this GUY just comes out and GUNS DOWN 14 women because they got into a schmancy school when he couldn’t? What the HELL?

What kind of a world was I going into? Wasn’t feminism this thing my mother did in the ’60s? Wasn’t it, like, OVER? Why did this asshole have to come along and upset the dynamic like that? I mean, sisters were doing it for themselves, BUB!

Feminism wasn’t about this sad-and-twisted fuck until he decided to pick up a gun and make it about him.

It seems so long ago now, 1989.

Only, it doesn’t.

Shootings still happen. Feminism’s still needed, because women today are in a weird, weird place.

And feminism’s still a problem, because men today are in a weird, weird place, too, and that can’t be ignored.

I want a world where men can be men, women can be women, and neither needs to pick from the other’s plate. I wanted it then, I want it now.

When I think about The Massacre, I remember why I’m so angered by girls who flaunt their beauty and neglect their brains. The price we’ve paid for advancement has been too high for these bubblegum girls to mock it all, throwing it away, like intelligence and self-sustenance are choices, and not survival tools.

I also remind myself of how important it is to me that my success never come at the price of another person’s loss. I don’t know that “quotas” drove that man to kill those women, but perhaps they did.

Perhaps he was just a self-involved asshole. I don’t know. I’m not hedging my bets against option B, either.

But I staunchly oppose quotas. People should gain success based on merit, not on geography, colour, or other attributes. I get the anger about that, but I also know most of us have a few issues with perceived “entitlement”.

Ahh, well. I still can’t make any sense out of that day.

I like to think it helped a generation of women understand that our freedoms and choices came by way of many years of fighting for them. I know my generation seemed to Get It.

I think we understood better what our predecessors fought against, and why misogyny was such a worthwhile foe.

Some lessons really don’t need to be learned, though. Not like that.

Most of all, one of the saddest lessons I learned was in realising that there’d always be an “us” versus a “them”.

There’ve been few times in life where I’ve ever had the privilege of really feeling like we’re “all in it together.”

“Community” is a lovely word, but seldom attained, and usually only then through great tragedy. After 9/11 was one of those times we all felt a brotherhood, as if nothing was stronger than the bond that held us together.

Politics got in the way then, just like the distractions and demands of every day life get in the way now.

I wish I could take more good from that day, but I can’t. There’s too much blood on the bricks for “good” to be found easily. I wish that crime didn’t resonate as much as it does still, all these years later, but it does. It feels like I’m somehow giving the gunman his victory by letting it resonate so long after the fact, but I’m trying instead to honour those who lost everything.

What I hold onto these days how much that day still resonates for so many others.

I wonder, too, how much that anger persists for them.

I wish we weren’t defined by the worst of who we are — the petty men and women in divorces, who inspire so much hatred toward their opposite sex, “little things” like that define our society so much more than we appreciate. These are really the issues that divide men and women today — more family and money than profession.

In the end, the big picture always daunts and scares us because of unknown variables, like the gunman in question, or the economy, etc, always changing the scenes.

So, I try to look at the macro picture these days: people who thank me for holding a door open, a passing smile, small talk at the till, a stranger paying off an unknown parking meter, the bus driver who waits for me to run a block.

Where there is horror, there is humanity. Where there is no horror, there’s also humanity.

That comforts me still.

For every person capable of these horrific crimes, there are dozens, hundreds, thousands who have no comprehension of such behaviour.

On the micro scale, it’s why I remember to make small talk, say please and thanks, and take pleasure in the silly little exchanges that make life so darned “life” — because the big picture’s out of our control, and every time we keep the little picture feeling familiar, it’s another good day out for humanity.

Which, you know, I’ll take.

I’ve deliberately not used the Gunman’s name in this. I’ve realised using his name so often in connection with this killing somehow glorifies his legacy. If that “celebrity” aspect even provides .001% of the motivation that gets these psychopaths wanting to off innocents, then we in the media/blogs/etc are partly to blame for celebrit-ising massacres. It’d be nice if history books didn’t remember these sadistic fucks’ names.