The pattern is all too familiar. We know how it works. A mass shooting occurs. Innocent people are killed or wounded by a mad man. We are shocked for a brief time. We offer our thoughts and our prayers. We suggest solutions. The arguments and accusations begin. We get distracted. We change the subject. It’s too difficult to speak about such things without getting emotional, so we create fun diversions to occupy our thoughts. We tune out those who keep babbling about it. We move on. The list of incidents and victims grows, but we would rather think about that tomorrow, or perhaps never again until the next time.
A celebrity steps up to share his reasonable thoughts. He implores us to think of the real people who have been killed. He makes his arguments very personal. He appeals to our better natures. We can see that he is sincere, that he means well. Some point out that he is only an actor, not a person well versed in the constitution or the anatomy of guns or gun owners. They ask what his real intentions might be. They question his motives and ask why we should even listen to him, even though these same people are devoted followers of another man whose only real claim to fame is that he was and still is a celebrity who became president. We turn away and pretend we did not hear what the honest actor has said. We would rather think about that tomorrow, or perhaps never again until the next time.
We hear about a deadly gun that makes wounds so horrible that they destroy soft tissue, organs, bones upon entry into a body. They are so destructive that they are capable of decapitating victims with their impact, making them unrecognizable. Some insist that such a gun should banned from society save for use in the military or for policing. Others protest that they are necessary for hunting deer, or raccoons, or gophers or feral hogs. The most honest admit that they want them for protection and that the second amendment gives them the right to own them. We hear the different sides with an unbending determination to win the debate with our own views. We are thinking of our personal rebuttals even as the sounds of differing views are echoing in our heads. We would rather think about that tomorrow, or perhaps never again until the next time.
We are a nation rent in two, so divided that our only goal seems to be to prevent the other side from accomplishing anything that might actually help all of our citizenry. We seem to just want to be left alone, to be able to enjoy our way of life and what we see as our freedoms without too much sacrifice or responsibility. It is too painful to dwell on the horror of the realities in the world. It makes us feel bad, and we don’t want to feel bad. We would rather think about that tomorrow, or perhaps never again until the next time.
We are like a couple whose relationship has been fractured. We are no longer able to talk, to hear and understand each other’s feelings and ideas. When we try to discuss our problems we always end up in a fight. We find it impossible to comprehend how the other can actually have beliefs that are so contrary to our own. Are we not friends? Have we not loved each other? When did we grow so far apart in the way we see the problems that are tearing us assunder? We stop talking because it is too painful to do so. We would rather think about that tomorrow, or perhaps never again until the next time.
We are the United States of America and yet of late we seem to be heading for a divorce. We the people appear content to watch our grand experiment of a democratic republic divide us rather than unite us. We are avoiding truths and problems and solutions. We have become a nation of bumper stickers, flags, soundbites, and allegiances, rather than one dedicated to the proposition that we can work together to solve the problems that only grow with our unwillingness to endure the pain of facing them head on. We no longer have the luxury of thinking about that tomorrow, or perhaps never again. This is the next time and this time should be the last time that we allow our elected representatives to only spar with each other rather than attempt to actually change the dangerous course of politics that has left us reeling in sorrow and anger again and again.
I am angry and weary of sacrificing one million people to a virus because we can’t agree on how to protect one another. I am angry and weary of sacrificing innocents to mass shootings and violence because we can’t agree on how to protect one another. I am angry and tired and weary of sacrificing our very democracy because we can’t agree on how to protect our freedoms and our votes without justifying treasonous acts. I am angry and tired and weary of the sound and fury of our political views because the noise signifies nothing but the slow and continuous demise of our country. We must think about that today, lest there be no tomorrow.