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Clackamas shooting not an isolated event

The photo on the front page of the CNN website at 8:58 p.m. Tuesday, Dec. 11, was a little disconcerting. It was a little disconcerting because it’s of a place where I grew up.

Fox News, MSNBC — The same thing.

Headlines reading: “Gunman opens fire in Clackamas” superimposed over a photo of the cinema where I watched oh so many movies.

The last time a place I was this familiar with ended up on the news was in 2009. An Eagle Creek man locked his two 300+ pound sows in the house for a week. That made the front page of the Oregonian.

This is different.

Growing up in Estacada you kind of get the feeling that this sort of thing happens somewhere else. Not here. Sure, we’ve got domestic violence to spare. Yeah, we all drop out of school, it can seem like half of us face real serious battles with drugs and alcohol before we’re even legal, and we all knew someone who got preggers in 10th grade.

But that’s different. That stuff happens, and it happens to people we know.

Someone taking out a gun and starting to shoot in the mall, the mall where I grew up? That doesn’t happen. At least, not here.

But it did.

Clackamas. Home. A place I wasn’t allowed to hang out at alone until I was 16.

It’s so mundane. So Clackamas County. We’re supposed to be famous for being bumpkins. Not for this.

The truth is that this has been a reality for Americans throughout my whole country, a lot longer than it has been a reality for me.

I always felt shocked whenever I’d see the phrase “shooting” across the top of a news page. “Wow,” I’d think. “I’m so glad I’m here.”

Facing it, up front and personal like this — in a place so familiar — suddenly reminds me how much we are a part of the nation. We are not immune to a form of violence that is increasing across the country.

We can no longer disassociate ourselves from that bitter, dark trend.

By tomorrow (Dec. 12) morning there are going to be detailed reports. We’ll know the facts.

As the days and weeks unfold we’ll grieve with families, the news will run grim expositions on what might have driven someone to do this, people will fight for gun control, other people will oppose it, and eventually the police will release a report and the whole thing will die down. Fading, slowly into history.

For now, we will pray and gather as a community and heal.

We should not forget is that this is not an isolated incident. That unless we take a long hard look at the underlying causes, it won’t be long before another community has to face the terrifying and brutal truth that this is a national problem, that this kind of violence has roots that run deeper than simple personal psychosis, and that to solve it, we need to do more than mourn.

Callie Vandewiele is a resident of Portland and former resident of the EagleCreek/Estacada area.



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