Sickened, Outraged, Fed Up And Exhausted
Last week I was 465 words into an article on the Buffalo shooting, with working title “Sickened and Outraged” when I received the news that my dad had died.
I figured, rather naively, that by the time I got around to putting the finishing touches on that piece, I’d just be adding a few invisible drops to the ocean, so why bother?
On Tuesday, our last evening of sitting Shiva for my father, I was beginning to think of coming up for air when, approaching the end of the short service held in our living room, our rabbi asked that we include the “victims of today’s school shooting in Texas” in our last prayers.
I hadn’t looked at the news that day and knew nothing of Uvalde, Texas…
Here’s a small bit of what I’d penned for the post-Buffalo article:
“The culture doesn’t trust an 18-year-old with beer – because he might do something stupid or dangerous – but he has a constitutional right to arm himself to the teeth and can easily go online to purchase a few bucks worth of extras to enhance the lethality of his weapon.
Locked, loaded and in full tactical gear, off he goes…
And the Land of the Free and the Home of the Brave, the nation that considers itself the Leader of the Free World, appears incapable of looking at itself in the mirror and doing the work necessary to see that this sort of thing doesn’t happen again.
I suspect there are many reasons for that, first and foremost being that doing so would require admitting that we’re not all that and a bag of chips.”
Not only did this sort of thing happen again, it happened again with another 18-year-old shooter slaughtering children and their teachers in an elementary school classroom.
The Onion ran yet another iteration of what’s become a series of stories featuring the headline, “’No Way to Prevent This,’ Says Only Nation Where This Regularly Happens.”
In a brilliant move, they also included every one of the 20 previous iterations of the same story they’ve been running since 2014, each slightly modified with local details. (You can find a piece about The Onion’s page on NPR News.)
A day after the Buffalo shooting, my wife and I were sitting in the kitchen when, for the first time I can recall, she said “I don’t feel safe anywhere anymore.”
And there we were, just days after the weekend in which the shooting in Buffalo overshadowed another mass shooting at a church in California, 145 days and 213 mass shootings into 2022, (according to the Gun Violence Archive) and not an inch closer to doing anything about it.
This being the good ol’ US of A, we no longer have the simple problem predictably caused by more having more than 400,000,000 guns (and counting) in circulation. Rather, we have a cancer that’s a complicated, self-perpetuating mix of fear, polarization, self-importance, desperation, power (the “might is right” variety), dehumanization, lack of responsibility, and the unholy trinity of “faith, freedom, firearms.”
Our childish attachment to war-grade killing tools has morphed into a distorted religion on a fear-fueled feeding frenzy. Each and every mass shooting is followed by an uptick in fervent, devoted new purchases.
We need guns to protect ourselves…
Then we need more guns to protect the guns we already have…
Then we need more guns to protect ourselves from our neighbors who might have even more guns…
Then we need still more guns to stop the government from coming and taking the guns the Most Sacred Second Amendment says we have a right to have…
Then we need even more guns to have on hand when the coming battle breaks out between the righteous “us” and the shadowy “them…”
And if someone so much as glances askance at that Sacred Second and dares point out that bit about “well regulated”, then we must have more guns to insure that – above all else, including the lives of children – we continue to have easy access to all the guns we could ever want.
Guns are now the leading cause of death for children in the US, by the way…
Here in the USA, the right to keep and bear arms has been elevated beyond the right to bodily sovereignty and, arguably, the right to life itself. Whether we believe in it or not, we are all subject to the capricious nature of the firearm deity.
I’m sickened, outraged, fed up, and exhausted, and like my wife, don’t really feel safe anywhere…
And between the time I started and finished this article, just about everyone I’ve spoken to is feeling their own version of what I’m experiencing.
I don’t know exactly how we stop, or even slow, this deadly runaway train, but I’m pretty sure it involves a good look in the mirror. That, and a willingness to put people and lives above the illusion that the uncontrolled propagation of things designed specifically for killing will somehow make us safer.