Despite the 24 hours news cycle often drifting away from the issue, the epidemic of mass shootings continue. We must all feel so numb of the predictable conversations that will be had. Conversations deeply concerned with the mechanics of firearms will be had, the second amendment will be invoked, and the one question on everyone’s minds will be the one with the most varied answer: Why? It’s probably easy to write off a person’s actions a soley a product of their own deficiency, but we know better than that. No person acts isolated from their environment, and yet even that particular will be in contention. The motivations of the gunman will be speculated over ad infinitum.
There will be ceremony for the lost, because at the end of the day, those people are dead. Regardless of why, they died, and whatever they had left to say will forever go unsaid. One person is too many, but so many so often are lost and we don’t even have time to mourn. We hope that maybe the next crisis is far enough out that we will have taken steps to making sure it won’t happen again by then.
The antagonist that agonizes all this pain and confusion is a general hopelessness that has beset us. From any angle, everyone sees their outlook in a particularly grim light, and why shouldn’t they? Any concession made to the “other side” would lead to utter ruin. There’s also the ever present material reality of the current ecological crisis. Our system is unsustainable, and more and more people lose hope in legitimate structures.
Anti-semitism is so evil, not just as a particularly distasteful variety of racism, but in the horrible collective trauma of the world wars still felt nearly one hundred years later. So much senseless bloodshed among a laundry list of human rights disasters of the last century. I will argue that while the Pittsburgh gunman did ultimately act on their own, we are collectively responsible for the world that breeds that kind of hate.
Most people don’t enjoy the idea of violence, and while many people (myself included) have an understanding that the defense of oneself and others from violence is a necessary precondition for us to act with force, that’s not quite the line we’ve drawn. In the current paradigm, violence and force are considered an acceptable political tool to achieve our aims. While I don’t know anyone who would openly take that position, it is implicit in our rhetoric. Threats and yes even the often maligned notion of civility matter. We often want to pursue something more pure and quicker than politics. Politics are slow and bureaucratic, but it turns out it might be the only thing standing between us and what I can only describe as a Hobbesian nightmare.
It is no ones fault but the gunman’s for what happened in Pittsburgh this weekend. Sadly, if we want things to change, the responsibility is on all of us to shift our way of thinking towards a culture that does not encourage and legitimize these horrible tragedies. My thoughts are with those people grieving, but I know that wont be enough.