Not Yet Numb

March for Our Lives

March for Our Lives. Photo by Callen Harty.

Somehow, I am not yet numb.

While watching a teenage girl talk about a boy in her high school class giving his life to save others, tears come into my eyes and my swallowing becomes difficult.

So I realize I am not yet numb.

Despite another child killed in another school.

Despite a litany of shootings and killings reported at one time in the media:

  • “Baltimore’s violent weekend continues with 2 fatal shootings overnight”–Baltimore Sun
  •  “Alabama cop fatally shot; wife charged”–Fox News
  •  “Man held after shooting at Calif. state park”–Los Angeles Times
  •  “12-y-o boy charged with murder in shooting death of 10-y-o brother”–New York Daily News
  •  “Texas pastor, wife shoot and kill alleged burglar at their home: police”–ABC News
  •  “Elite 8th-grade football recruit shot, killed”–Yahoo Sports

These are the stories of our times–the random shootings, daily murders, churches set afire, mass shootings, bombings and bomb threats, hatred, terrorism from within. These are the stories we carry in our hearts.

And somehow I am not yet numb, and I wonder how that can be.

Maybe it’s because there are heroes. Maybe it’s because there are boys who are willing to take a bullet to save others. Because there are some politicians willing to take a stand. Young people like David Hogg and Emma Gonzalez who refuse to stay silent. Regular folks who do what they can to promote peace.

And maybe it’s because I can’t be numb, because if I am numb I no longer feel, and if I no longer feel, I can no longer act, and if I can no longer act, then I can do nothing but lie in fear of the day when it happens to me. And I refuse to give in to that.

I will still cry for those who are lost. I will still fight to lose no more. When I die, I will know I did my best, and I will not die numb.

About Callen Harty

Originally from Shullsburg, Wisconsin Callen Harty is the author of four books and numerous published essays, poems, and articles. His most recent book is The Stronger Pull, a memoir about coming out in a small town in Wisconsin. His first book was My Queer Life, a compilation of over 30 years worth of writing on living life as a queer man. It includes essays, poems, speeches, monologues, and more. Empty Playground: A Survivor's Story, is a memoir about surviving childhood sex abuse. His play, Invisible Boy, is a narrative with poetic elements and is also an autobiographical look as surviving child sex abuse. All are available on (and three of them on Kindle) or can be ordered through local bookstores, He has written almost two dozen plays and 50 monologues that have been produced. Most of them have been produced at Broom Street Theater in Madison, Wisconsin where he started as an actor, writer, and director in 1983. He served as the Artistic Director of the theater from 2005-2010. Monologues he wrote for the Wisconsin Veterans’ Museum won him awards from the Wisconsin Historical Society and the American Association of State and Local History. He has also had essays, poems, and articles published in newspapers and magazines around the country and has taken the top prize in several photo contests. His writing has appeared in Out!, James White Review, Scott Stamp Monthly, Wisconsin State Journal, and elsewhere. He has had several essays published online for Forward Seeking, Life After Hate, and The Progressive. Callen has also been a community activist for many years. He was the co-founder of Young People Caring, UW-Madison’s 10% Society, and Proud Theater. He served as the first President of Young People Caring and as the Artistic Director for Proud Theater for its first five years. He is still an adult mentor for the group. In 2003 he won OutReach’s Man of the Year award for his queer community activism. OutReach is Madison, Wisconsin’s lesbian/gay/bisexual/transgender community center. He also won a Community Shares of Wisconsin Backyard Hero award for his sex abuse survivor activism work. He has been invited to speak before many community groups, at a roundtable on queer community theater in New York City, and has emceed several events. In 2016, Wisconsin Coalition Against Sexual Assault named him their annual Courage Award winner for his activism, writing, and speaking on sexual assault.
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