We don’t even think about it anymore. It’s just the way life is.
There was a time when we were shocked and stunned, horrified. Not any more.
Now we simply expect it.
Turn on the television news, or the radio. Your eyes do not widen, you do not gasp. Barely an old-fashioned “Oh My God!” escapes your lips.
It’s just the way life is. As though every newscast began with these words: “Today’s school shooting occurred at….”
Or “Today’s hostages were taken at around nine a.m. in….”
Or “The nine year old was just in the wrong place at the wrong time.”
Or “The shooter, a 37 year old veteran of Afghanistan….”
We absorb but we do not weep. We are not surprised, neither are we angry.
It’s just the way that life in the United States has evolved. There’s nothing to be done about it except hope that these bulletins never involve your family or your friends.
The idea that there are three guns available for every man, woman, and child in the US doesn’t cross our minds any longer. We’ve decided to blame this carnage on people with mental problems. We aren’t going to even whisper about the National Rifle Association.
The reality of state after state enacting “carrying” laws that specify men, women, and children may carry loaded arms into movie theatres, hospitals, universities, department stores, malls, on the streets, in their cars, restaurants and bars really has come true. Why should we be surprised, then, at any act of violence in which gunplay is a feature?
We as a nation of voters have allowed this, are allowing it through our ever-wise representatives in state and national capitals. We continue to send these beknighted men and women to speak for us. Apparently they DO understand what we the voters want.
All this has nothing to do with protecting ourselves in our homes. Or with the great sports of target-shooting and hunting.
Here’s a question. Two questions. Who gave men the power to control the reproductive systems of women? And why have women allowed this?
Here’s another question. Another two questions. Who gave men the power to fear other men to the extent that one’s only defense is firepower? And why have men allowed this fear to control the lives of their families and friends?
Ahhh, you say: The government did. Both of those things, all of those things. But our government, folks, is ourselves. Is the fear that the “government” will take “freedom” away from us then fear of ourselves?
Is the government the single crazy white man at a Bible study class? Because he is exactly the kind of citizen who may, in the long run, force arms out of our homes, out of our attics and closets, out of our belts, off the range.
Of course, that won’t happen as long as we allow the current state of affairs to continue unremarked.
Or are we all so ill that it’s too late not to fear inoculation? Are we as suspicious, as superstitious to believe that vaccines cause the disease, rather than help control it? Just like the mountain populace of Afghanistan?
In those mountains, tribes and villages are controlled by threat of punishment set down as law by old men who are distant from the modern world. Compare that with redoubts of suspicion and rumor we experience in this country, where a few lines on Twitter can mobilize self-defense maniacs.
Whether fear is state-wide or simply in the mind of a 21 year old rogue without a modern worldview, or even with one, is stirred by a desire for power, position, influence, notoriety – nonetheless it is fear that is driving thousands to their too early deaths. Whether Texas concocted, or from South Carolina, whether summoned into action by smash gatherings in Philadelphia or Baltimore, we seem as a nation to be beyond reason. Not to mention the idea, centuries old, that a church is a sanctuary, part of a worldview we are not surprised people no longer maintain.
We can gather and clasp hands and raise them to the sky, singing “We shall overcome” day after day. We can’t overcome until we’re damned well ready to do so, and we aren’t.
To be famous is a wondrous thing
And that, it seems to us, explains a lot.