The pattern is painfully familiar. A gunman slaughters innocents in a school, a workplace, a church, a mall. Opposing sides take up the usual positions, blaming the other for not accepting common sense solutions or deriding the other side’s solutions as lacking common sense. We await the funerals, the shedding of tears, the moments of silence and retreat back to our corners once the dead are buried. We secretly hope the discussion will reside, because deep down we know the truth. None of our arguments will hold water because none of our arguments want to admit the truth. It’s easier to move on until the next time.
The truth of the matter is that the problem is us. The truth is our society is deeply flawed, our culture has become repulsive, our values have been trampled. Americans have long considered themselves a superior people, the exceptional national. And for a long time we were just that: the nation that saved the civilization, the nation that reached the moon, the economic and cultural engine that became the envy of the world. What a mess we have made of the country we were given.
The worst among us – the politicians and celebrity pundits who pontificate and scold for personal gain – intentionally add fire to the flame and create discord where none need be. They want to pretend that mass shootings can be stopped by passing a law, any law, just some arbitrary government action. But they can’t. Mass shooting do not occur because of the absence of a law. Mass shootings are not the result of anything. They are a symptom of a society on the verge of moral collapse.
We no longer hold dear the values that were bestowed upon us. The nuclear family that formed the basis of our national core now barely exists. The faith in a higher power is routinely mocked. Our population has become the property of the state, exploited by corporations for obscene profit. In one generation we have gone from one nation under God to a myriad of grievance groups united only in their contempt for one another. The once unifying belief in a limitless future has been replaced by a national pessimism that permeates our increasingly nihilistic culture. What was once reverential belief in American institutions has evolved into distrust and disdain, an abject rejection of American history. Vast swathes of citizens and non-citizens alike no longer believe in the America many of us grew up in.
- Into this maelstrom of national angst and moral degradation we bring our children, exposing them to a world of conflict and fear. Rather than embrace them with love and understanding, we medicate them so they’ll be quiet and not disturb our lives. The wonder is not that these killings occur. The wonder is that they do not occur more often.
Until we are willing to admit the truth, that mass killings are not just the acts of deranged individuals but are symbiotic of a national breakdown and a loss of belief in the American creed, these killings will continue and will grow in both frequency and loss of life. As long as we ignore the reality we face and instead shift the national argument to ancillary issues such as gun control and 2nd Amendment rights, we will continue to tragically miss the point.
We have met the killer and the killer is us.