At some point in the movie Broken Arrow, a term that describes a lost nuclear weapon, a character exclaims, “I don't know what's scarier, losing nuclear weapons, or that it happens so often there's actually a term for it.” When we start creating a terminology for an event it indicates complacency for that event, or at least our admission of lacking control over preventing it.
Consider a reality when, in a matter of years, we go from saying “there was a shooting today” to “there was another shooting today.” That is the reality of our current culture. We expect shootings to occur. No, we do not anticipate them, but we are certainly no longer surprised. The damage this is doing to our collective American unconscious is devastating. We are not yet at the point where we can shrug off mass-murder, but there is only so many times a pattern can occur before it is accepted as a part of life. Yesterday it was children between 5 and 10 that were murdered. What will have to happen next time in order to feel shock?
Everyone has a reaction, of course, shocked or not. Some are despicable enough to push their agenda. There are those that react in the most irresponsible manner: they brandish their weapons and let it be known that no subsequent shooter will survive should they pull the same stunt in their proximity. This sort of macho reactionary nonsense is part of the problem. While I understand the need to self-affirm, there is no dignity in this proclamation; it serves only as a thin mask for willingness to murder. A willingness to kill, no matter the reason, damages the psyche. I am not talking about military, or law enforcement officials, where weaponry and the threat of violence is part of the job; I am talking about the average citizen who takes up arms with not only a willingness to defend himself, but a willingness to use the subterfuge of self-defense as a loophole to take a life within the law.
But, maybe that’s a stretch. Maybe that’s all conjecture. Or perhaps there is another term for it: warning sign. I don’t care who you are, or why you own a gun, my point of view is this: if you proudly proclaim your willingness to kill someone, no matter the situation, you are part of the problem. True self-defense and precautionary undertakings do not come with such posturing. They come with a thoughtfulness and responsibility towards the power they may one day have in their hands, and a fear of ever having to do the unthinkable.
A close friend posted on Facebook that we must “stay alert, vigilant, and follow [our] instincts.” He is talking about our individual responsibility to safety. I agree with him. I would also like to add that in order to enjoy life, and to respect the lives of others, we must first have reverence for our own right to breathe. That is to say, we must note the luxury of simply getting up in the morning to love the people and world around us, to indulge in laughter, wine, and good food, quiet moments, challenges and successes. It will be our greatest struggle in years to come, as rational people, to hold those things in close regard, as those that have lost their way attempt to chip away at the most basic thing we have: our right to wake up and breathe without fear. This is why it is important in the wake of each instance of our culture’s incessant malice that we take the time to indulge in the things that make us happy -- our family and friends.
My heart and thoughts go to the family and friends of those lost in Newtown, CT yesterday.