Nothing is funny today. There is a pall hanging over this holiday season, a grief-filled cloud, brought on by yet another horrifying mass shooting. How can we make sense of a world where a loved one, a beloved child, can walk out the door, never to return because of a random act of violence? And how horrible that these senseless acts of violence have become so common that they could literally happen anywhere at anytime. What kind of world have we created?
My usual Monday morning column was written before Friday’s shooting. It was fluff—a festive piece about holiday traditions around the world. It was something to read on a coffee break, guaranteed to give a chuckle or two or, perhaps, food for thought. Ever since the unimaginable happened, I have been unable to think of anything else, just like the rest of the world.
There is no escaping the unfathomable grief because the media won’t give us any respite. Maybe some people need this—the human interest stories, Diane Sawyer looking grim, parents crying, the endless “whys”—but I do not. I will not turn on the television unless I know it’s set to some innocuous cable channel, House Hunters or a cooking program. I am ashamed to live in a supposedly civilized country where this sort of horror story happens over and over again.
Several columns ago, I wrote about gun violence. While researching that column, I was amazed to discover the guns used in these types of crimes are often purchased legally. The gunman’s mother, an enthusiast, bought the guns used on Friday. Her own arsenal killed her. The guns used in the Colorado movie theater shooting were purchased legally. Legal assault rifles were used in both killings. What private citizen has any earthly reason to obtain and use an assault weapon?
During the presidential debates, it was predictable that gun control was once again a non-issue, taboo even. Politicians are afraid of the all-powerful gun lobby, the NRA, so they don’t openly discuss the fact that A) Our country leads the world in mass shootings and B) Anyone can get their hands on assault weaponry at any time, in any place—maybe even here in Moorestown. And if not in our fair little town, Camden and Philly are a stone’s throw away and rife with rifles, semiautomatics and other scary weapons, sold illegally and/or legally.
Every time there is a mass shooting, we shake our heads and bemoan the tragic violence. We wonder aloud why our elected officials cannot stanch the flow of weapons. We rue the fact that there are so many troubled individuals out there, desperate for help and poised to commit terrible crimes, for no apparent reason.
But nothing ever changes. Another crisis erupts, a superstorm perhaps, and our attention is hijacked. We put aside the horror we felt upon seeing the dazed young man with the garish clown hair sitting in a Colorado courtroom. We breathe deeply of the pure air inside our bubble, pick the kids up from karate and make dinner. We wipe the counter for the 67,000th time, saying a silent prayer that the violence has, thus far, stayed very far away from the perfect little world we’ve created in suburban New Jersey, in a town probably very much like Sandy Hook, CT.
This holiday season, can we all rise up as one and say ENOUGH?
Is it possible this nightmarish crime, perpetrated on so many beautiful and innocent children, will be the last horrific act of this kind we ever see? That our elected officials will finally do something, stop something? If there ever was a time to rise up in righteous indignation and say “I’m mad as hell and I won’t take it anymore,” this is it, dear friends. We need to return to the protests of the '60s and '70s, we need to march on Washington, we need to shout, scream and cry. We need to change our violent world right now.
Anybody with me?