The 3 foot tall, forty pound, 5 year old apparently given or sold by her mother into sex slavery has been found dead by the side of a road in Fayetteville, North Carolina. There is very little to say about anyone involved in this situation except that they will not be the last to do this to a child and the You Tube videos of Shaniya will be replaced soon enough by the next missing child, the next pre-teen sex slave, the next Jaycee Dugard. I was driving this morning and listening to the news, you know - the kind of news where the college football score is announced before a story of a five year old abandoned to a living hell. And I pulled over and threw up. Really.
We can ask all sorts of questions about what kind of species we are, what kind of country, what kind of society we are; what kind of substance abuse, economic blight, family uncaring or social service neglect brought this girl to being no more than roadkill in a landscape of moral and ethical bankruptcy. We can throw blame around for days or we can trot our local law enforcement agencies out to say 'never again' and our politicians will make hay of the ass-kicking they are doing at the local level.
Recently my local state Assemblywoman wrote a self serving email to her constituents telling all of the amazing things she had done to bring the disparate forces of hate together after the brutal gang rape of a schoolgirl. The thing is Nancy - how many rapes have there been in Richmond since you sent that email? Why isn't there a politician who will stand up and say 'we are powerless to stop this degradation, because morally, we just don't have it in us to stop'.
We are a nasty nasty species whose moral progress is so far outstripped by our technological wizardry, by our brilliant inventive minds, that the divide between what we accomplish in innovation and experimentation and what we do in the dark slime of our souls is so vast, so incomprehensible. It's almost as if we are talking of another species. I was the same age as the small children abducted, tortured, sexually assaulted and slaughtered by Ian Brady with the help of Myra Hindley who then buried the bodies on the Moors in England in the 60's. They even tape recorded the screams of their victims. This terrible terrible evidence was played in court and I doubt any juror on that trial has ever forgotten. These days, security cameras catch the kidnapper (and possible murderer) of Shaniya on film, and we are left with a tantalizing and hopeless sense of 'what if'. But Shaniya is just todays YouTube video.
We can fly a drone 2 miles high over the darkest reaches of the Pakistani border regions, a small object controlled and 'piloted' from warehouses in Maryland which can blow up an Al Queda operative as he lies on a sunbed on a roof - but we can't find a 5 year old child in our own midst.
We can send yet another multi billion dollar space shuttle to complete mind-boggling adjustments to a space station, but little girls still turn up thrown into mud ditches packed in a suitcase, and a girl abducted 18 years previously, raped and isolated from the outside world can go unseen, raising two children in a backyard.
I have absolutely no answers. Because there is no answer and no solution to the darkness inside of us. How one continues to live, and feel joy, to laugh at a stupid film, to feel the utter beauty of life and the world around us - that is the mystery of our species.