How can this be?

How can this be?

How can someone walk into a school and shoot children?

To be fair, I don’t understand how anyone could walk into anyplace — a school, a store, a synagogue, a church — and shoot anybody.

I have never held a gun, much less shot one. I can imagine many things, but not what a gun would feel like inert in my hand, much less as an object to be aimed at someone or something and then triggered.

I don’t know what people who take their guns into schools and shoot them might be thinking. I don’t think that anyone who is sane and has a normally functioning imagination can imagine that. It would be too horrifying. Our minds would shy away from it.

But there are people who do such things, and it happened again this week.

This is Memorial Day weekend; when at least in theory we remember the members of our armed forces who died in service to their country. It honors — again in theory, because in practice it honors barbecue — courage and sacrifice.

This week, we include a short note that 19-year-old Murray Hoffer wrote to the young members of his Jersey City shul in 1944, describing Yom Kippur on the troop ship that took him to England; from there he went on to the Battle of the Bulge, where he died. His cousin, Nate Bloom, who writes our Noshes column, wasn’t born until long after he died but who now is much older than Murray ever got to be, found it online, and sent it to us.

We cannot really remember Murray, even on Memorial Day, because we never knew him. Like everyone else, he was a universe; a person whose wants and needs and loves and dislikes were buried with him. But we can remember that he existed.

It seems that this monster in Texas killed 19 children and a teacher.

How can that be? How can someone walk into a school and kill children? Or their teacher, who also was a universe.

This is not a rhetorical question. It is not asked for effect, or as a literary device. It is a real question.

On Memorial Day this year, as we meet family and friends, because the pandemic is not over but we are acting, perhaps correctly, as if the worst threat from it has passed, we should take joy in our lives, but we also have to remember that there is real evil in the world.

And maybe, just maybe, we should consider taking the guns away from those monsters. Because if we don’t, they will kill more children. At this point, it is naïve to think that they will not.

Despite the horror in the world, we hope that you, our readers, will have a good Memorial Day weekend, and that the terror stalking the world will make the world’s pleasures and beauties that much sweeter and even more precious.