Dulled by repetition, we hear the news with only semi-surprised horror.
We see the all-too-regular imagery of children hiding under their desks and running from their school. We see the families hugging—some in relief, others in grief—around the school perimeter. With hard-to-admit shame, we experience another moment of “Thank God, it’s not my baby” gratitude.
The aftermath is all-too-predictable.
We assign blame. It’s the NRA’s fault. It’s the Republicans’ fault. It’s elected officials’ fault. It’s the gun industry’s fault. It’s our failing mental health system’s fault. It’s social-media-gone-unchecked’s fault. It’s violent video games’ fault. Undeniably, all of those are contributing factors, but who is truly to blame? Me…and you.
Together, we assess the possible causes. We shed tears.
Then, inexplicably, we accept inaction.
We continually elect representatives who place lobbyists and literal interpretation of our “sacred” documents above lives. We stand idly by.
After 9/11, our methods of travel changed. Government agencies were formed in response to do whatever possible to prevent—or at least minimize the ease in committing—future terrorist incidents. As a population, we acted. We embraced inconvenience and willingly “sacrificed” check-free travel, along with a wee bit of personal privacy for the safety of our fellow citizens—and ourselves. Thank God our Bill of Rights didn’t guarantee the right to enter metal flying birds without safety precautions. Thank God.
See something. Say something. Now it’s time to stop something.
As Americans, we are facilitating mass-murder.
We are enabling massacres by our inertia, by our fear of confrontation.
We’re afraid of infringing upon our fellow Americans’ rights. Yes, brilliant men guaranteed and composed those rights; brilliant men who could not have predicted the proliferation of public access to automatic weapons now aimed at innocents with heart-wrenching frequency.
Political disagreement no longer scares me.
What makes me genuinely afraid is letting my kids go to a concert. To a movie. To school. To church.
What should have been an afternoon spent telling stories of school-shared love notes, balloons, and flowers for seventeen families in Parkland, Florida ended in death. Death.
We are overdue. These families—and those in Newtown, Aurora, Columbine, Orlando, Charleston, Las Vegas—deserve not only our thoughts and prayers, but our apologies—and our promise to act.