Friday, December 14, 2012

The American Heart

Three days after my sister had to run out of an Oregon mall from gunfire that killed 2 people inside, now we have this unimaginable shooting at an elementary school in Connecticut.

Who knows what to say. There seems to be no end to this kind of news, and my keyboard seems to be the place where I hear about them all -- I can still remember the moment of the Columbine shooting, the Virginia Tech shooting, the Gabby Giffords shooting, the Clackmas mall shooting. 

These shootings have now become a phenomenon, a type of statement, I guess, a way for a few people -- always young men -- to express something maybe they can't even identify. There are surely many reasons behind them, arising from our big, complex society, but to me there seems to be something wrong with the American heart.

One thing that seems significant, to me, is that many of these shooters were dressed at least partly in military garb -- in black, or in camo, often wearing a vest designed to hold ammunition. Its often how the police often dress too, especially the responders, or those assigned to police public events. And, of course, it's a big part of many video games. These shooters seem themselves on a mission, and dress accordingly.

I don't think you can separate this from our country's militarism. (The Oregon shooter was reportedly frustrated that he had been unable to join the Marines.) Our country is quick to initiate violence as a solution to our international problems -- Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Yemen -- and we are killing thousands of civilians in the process. The media barely notices anymore, and the public doesn't care.

They have their drone strikes, ordered by our President. We have our mall and school shootings.

I don't know of any answers, but it seems to me you can't condemn violence on the one hand and utilize it on the other.

And we adults can't continue to merely be shocked at these incidents time and time again, and do nothing about it. If we aren't taking the time to contact our representatives about limiting weapons like assault rifles and automatic weapons -- which have no legitimate purpose as hunting weapons, but are strictly intended to kill large numbers of people quickly -- and closing background check loopholes, then we are failing in our responsibility to be morally responsible human beings. And if we aren't adding our voices to those speaking against extreme and irrational voices like the NRA -- who by now have to seen as an accomplice, I believe -- then you have to accept that our silence is part of the problem.

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