At the end of the night I wanted a body

I think I was wrong

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It was the end of the night and security had asked a group of men to leave the bar but they didn’t want to do that. Around four in the morning someone came back to the bar with a gun and started shooting. When you are drunk and you feel disrespected that is what you do you go back and kill the person the motherfucker will be taught a lesson is what you are thinking at the time. The security guards at the bar in a southern suburb of Chicago returned fire and Jemel Roberson who was working security that night ended up getting one of the men on the ground and held him there at gunpoint waiting for the police to arrive and take the man in. He had him on the ground there outside the bar with his knee in his back and was saying don’t move and things like that a witness said and then the cops came and now Roberson will never play organ in the church choir again or get to become a police officer himself which is what his friends said he wanted to do one day.

"Everybody was screaming out, 'he was a security guard,' and they basically saw a black man with a gun and killed him," Adam Harris, who was there at the time told a reporter.

"A Midlothian Officer encountered a subject with a gun and was involved in an Officer involved shooting,” the police chief said in a statement in the characteristic disembodied police vernacular where things just sort of happen without any cause. Events are set in motion officers are involved in shootings subjects are pronounced deceased.

“One of our beloved Purposed Church musicians who was working part time overnight as security stopped the shooter from shooting more people [and] was shot multiple times by the police and killed,” LeAundre Hill, the pastor of Purposed Church wrote on Twitter. The night before Roberson had played organ at the funeral for Hill’s grandmother. One of the things the president and the NRA and people who love their guns very much say whenever there is a mass shooting is that we need to harden our schools and our churches and so on. We need to have armed security guards everywhere we go to protect us from people with bad intentions but one thing they don’t say is that person had better go ahead and be white. You can donate to Roberson’s burial fund here if you like thankfully the way he was killed by police has made the national news because that’s what you have to do to be able to pay for funerals now is have your death have a hook that makes it stand out.

Another thing police like to do besides kill people is to put them in jail for the crime of being addicted to drugs. Police like Kevin Simmers a sergeant in Maryland who apparently was very good at doing just that according to the Atlantic. “He relished locking up drug users, no matter how little crack they had on them,” the story said.  “If they just had a pipe—fine,” Simmers said. “At the end of the night, I wanted to have an arrest. I wanted a body.”

One of those bodies ended up being his own daughter Brooke who had become addicted to opioids and had resorted to selling her body to be able to get the opioids she needed. He did everything he could to get his 18 year old daughter clean Simmers said and put her into multiple rehabs but many of them don’t know what they’re doing and focus on abstinence only recovery which a lot of people think is less effective than using low-dose opioids to help with withdrawal symptoms.

Eventually Simmers asked some police friends of his to go and arrest his daughter which they hadn’t done before then out of professional courtesy. She spent four months in jail and then when she got out she eventually relapsed. They found her dead one morning in her car “in her own vomit in the back seat, a sweatshirt rolled up like a pillow under her head and a basketball near her feet.”

Simmers used to hold contests for a free dinner for whichever officer could lock up the most people in a night but now a few years after his daughter died he has realized the cruelty and pointlessness of the war on drugs. “Twenty years ago, most people thought arrest and incarceration were the answer to this drug war,” he said. “I think most people were wrong—I think I was wrong.” I am glad he is saying that now and it is hard not to feel terrible for him and his family but it would be nice if Republicans and cops could sometimes learn how to experience empathy before something terrible happened to them personally.

Whenever I read stories like these or do or think about literally anything I ask myself what the point of going on is. I don’t want to know about this type of shit anymore I say to myself. But you do go on. Most of us do. We figure out a way to go on. It’s getting harder to do I think sometimes especially as I get older so I wanted to know how people a generation ahead of me manage to do it. I asked a few of them a simple question: How do you go on? Interpret it anyway you will I said. But how do you go on? Here is some of what they told me:

Rob, 64

Positivity bordering on denial. It can apply to health issues, personal relationships, politics, or just daily life. Kinda like a good Buddhist, subordinating desire and expectations while embracing the present tense with wonderment of your personal experiences. Or ignoring aches and pains, assholes, and other horrible things that require endurance. Positive vibes. Positive vibes. Always. Also, I’d mention distancing myself from people with negative energy.

David, 61

Because it's about more than just me. If I was only concerned with me, I think the temptation to just chuck it all and live in the woods, or worse just end it, might have sometimes become too much to bear. But it isn't about just me. It's about my family. It's about society. It's about people who depend on me - some of them without even knowing it.

Laurel, 66

How does one go on? Very good existential question. I guess from a younger person’s point of view it seems futile, being that so much is lost as one ages. What young people do not understand is all that is gained. It's like being on acid 24/7 as everything gets really intense, because you know it's not forever. I mean, everything is wildly intense... even love... sex... skiing!! Your mind is more focused on the "now" - because what future really is there? AND, there is no pressure to BE... because there is no time to BE what you thought you'd be. It's a real head trip and well worth the aches and pains. Yeah, it's better than being young.

Brian, 59

Ha! Interesting. Some don't, I suppose. My older brother took his own life two years ago, after struggling for years with depression. I suppose the answer is in that, to some extent. If there are aspects of your life that make you happy, or fulfill you somehow, continuing to exist doesn't seem like such a chore. I have a number of interests and ambitions that sometimes make me feel like I need more time than I imagine I will have. I'd like to continue to improve as a musician. I started running marathons at the age of fifty and have some goals around that. I remarried two years ago. My wife is a wonderful partner and our life together is very serene. There are many places we would like to go together. I sometimes think about famous polymaths like DaVinci and Franklin, and I imagine they felt like one lifetime wasn't enough to learn all the things they wanted to. True, you have to keep going with a body that doesn't look, or feel, or work as good as it used to. Like a lot of people my age I have chronic pain and some health issues.

Raymond, 73

That question is more pertinent in the context of retirement. Or, for anyone, after the loss of a loved one. But otherwise "going on" at 70 is like going on at 40 (if one's health is good).

PS: Curiosity. How's this going to turn out? I think that's the main motivator. Every night is like the ending of an episode of Soap. "Will Mueller indict Trump? Will Sanders resign? Is the new Octavian album any good?"

David, 63

One just does.

I don't wish death. Sometimes however I do think that all in all it's best I won't be around to see ocean front property in Burlington, Massachusetts. I do feel guilty what I'm leaving for my children though.