There’s also little doubt that the primary heroes of the day were schoolteachers — public school teachers — who hid children in closets and saved their lives, and who evacuated the children, leading them out through what had become a killing field in preposterously good order in what were the last hours of their childhoods, as one of the teachers said, with devastating accuracy, to a local TV station. There’s also little doubt that the response of the local police and fire departments in a very small place was prompt and brave.
When we go on forever on the blog here about the value of a political commonwealth, and how it is a product of the ongoing creative process of self-government, this kind of response is what we’re talking about. There are things we must do together, in a political context, because these things are too big — and, in this case, too monstrous — for us to handle alone. Self-government and its institutions — public schools, police and fire departments, and all the people to whom we increasingly begrudge their salaries — are the only things keeping us from falling back into barbarism, and the only things keeping us safe and sane when one of us falls back into it on their own.