Mass killings won’t end in the United States anytime soon, if ever. I’m afraid we’ll just have to accept them as a fact of life and get used to them as we have deaths from car accidents, viruses, overdoses, and alcohol-fueled violence.
Americans will not ban cars. Americans will not ban alcohol. Americans will not ban guns. We will not make those sacrifices. We will not sacrifice our right to mobility, to intoxication, or to bear arms. Instead we will occasionally sacrifice some of our own people. It’s just another trade-off.
Ancient mythic stories tell of fathers who sacrificed a child to gain favor with a certain god or to gain favorable winds on the sea or to win a battle. Appeasing the sacred by making a sacrifice is nothing new. For the sake of some (allegedly) higher value, people have always rationalized the killing of innocents.
In America, the Second Amendment is sacred. Unfortunately, religious fanatics don’t negotiate, not even when children die for their right to bear arms. I guess they believe that’s just the price of freedom.
I recently read the biography of Genghis Kahn, a history of Poland, and a history of several Eurasian empires. The Poles were systematically slaughtered by Mongols, Russians, and Swedes. (Yes, Swedes.) The Poles, in turn, retaliated with massacres of their own. The Chinese massacred their neighbors, who in turn retaliated. In the Americas, Spanish, French, Portuguese, Dutch, and British colonizers slaughtered indigenous peoples, who, before the Europeans arrived, had massacred their own neighbors.
Mass killings may be news these days, but they are not new. Only the weapons are new. Genghis Kahn wielded a sword, not an AR-15. Weaponry has evolved. Human nature, not so much.
Most people are sane and good. But there have always been a few in every time and place who aren’t.
The United States has no more crazed people per capita than any other nation. But the United States has more privately owned guns per capita than any other nation. By far! Yes, mental health is an issue. But it is not the issue.
I once was optimistic. No longer. I don’t see any evidence from lawmakers, judiciaries, or Second Amendment zealots that this scourge will be checked anytime soon.
It’s an inconvenient truth.
I hope I’m wrong.
Please, if you can, give me reasons to be optimistic again.
See Paula’s new photo on the home page. Posted May 22