The shooting in Charleston last Wednesday was a tragedy. It was a senseless, horrific act of hatred and unfortunately, in this country, it was nothing new.
When I heard what had happened, I found myself not angry, but incredibly sad and somewhat … resigned. This is my country. This is what we live with. This is America today. This is what we have become.
You can argue all you want that this is an isolated incident and not reflective on the country as a whole, but in truth, this kind of violence happens with far too much regularity to be deemed a rarity.
I am sad my children will grow up in a country where violence is common place. I’m sad that places like schools, malls, movie theatres and churches have all been and most likely will continue to be targets for mad gunmen.
I’m sad that nine people have lost their lives.
I’m sad that it will most likely happen again. And again. And again. Because while I am sad, I am also confident that we will do nothing about it.
I love this country. I love the people for their diversity of culture, language and religions. I love the variety of landscapes, climates, accents and culinary tastes depending on which part of the land you’re in. I love that you can visit oceans, mountains, deserts and tropical volcanoes all within our borders.
America truly is beautiful, but there is a dark side as well and pretending that it doesn’t exist — ignoring the red flags of violence and hatred — is tantamount to complicity. We can no longer afford to pretend everything is fine. There are serious faults in our society that must be addressed.
What happened in Charleston was a stark reminder.
Sure, we will rally together, for a time. There will be vigils, memorials, tears and prayers. Then, we’ll split as demands for stricter gun legislation are met by NRA speeches and protesters of the Confederate flag will be countered with chants of “history, not hatred.”
In the end, we’ll all agree that this kind of thing must never happen again and we’ll think we’ve come together as a nation. A stronger nation. A nation more united in peace and brotherhood.
Until the next time it happens and we do it all over again.
The definition often given for insanity is to do the same thing over and over again while expecting different results. We must be insane. All of us.
I’m not saying the answer is more gun laws and I’m not saying the answer is more metal detectors and armed guards.
The truth is, I don’t know what the answer is. What I do know is that there is a problem — that much is obvious. And the first step in correcting any problem is admitting that one exists, which we fail to do with alarming closed-mindedness and regularity.
Jonesboro, Arkansas. Columbine High School. Virginia Tech. Fort Hood. Aurora, Colorado. Oak Creek, Wisconsin. Newtown, Connecticut. The DC naval base. Charleston, South Carolina.
I’m sure I missed some.
The bottom line is that until we, as a nation, decide enough is enough, nothing will change. We are treating bullet holes with Band-Aids. And it isn’t working.