Remember Paris? Remember Nice?
Remember writing how those violent events made you feel? Remember being rebuked for those feelings, more specifically for not sharing similar thoughts and emotions about events in other parts of the world? Yup, me too …
But what about Las Vegas? What about this horrendous event which happened in the USA? I’m not sure how many have been to Las Vegas (I haven’t), but I’m sure there’s a pretty high percentage of the British population who’ve visited the USA. So, I’d like to ask those of you who’ve visited, did you feel it? Did you feel moved to express your emotions? For I didn’t …
Until that is, I read this superb piece of writing from Iain Kelly and asked myself why? What was it about this violent event that made me do the written equivalent of a shrug? I have visited the USA many times, I’ve enjoyed those experiences, I have family living there for whom it is home. So why the shrug?
Could it be that I’ve become numb? That I’ve become unable to care more than the vast swathes of the American public who insist that the right to bear arms is more important than stopping these regular violent events? For there are many Americans who don’t share these views, yet there has been no progress made in protecting everyday Americans from these appalling outbursts.
The statistics support some form of rational thought being applied to this “right to bear arms” as enshrined in the US Constitution. But the US Constitution …
- doesn’t say that you should (bear arms) only that you could
- doesn’t say that it’s a good idea (to bear arms) in all and every circumstance(s)
- was almost certainly intended to relate to situations of genuine and immediate danger
- almost certainly related to the type of life which was commonplace when it was written … and not the type of life which is commonplace now
It’s like the Bible. Not everything in the Bible was written with the intention that it be taken at face value. Some of it was metaphor, some of it was only relevant to historical times. There was an assumption made – a presupposition if you like – that us human beings could use our God-given brains to bring our modern-day experience and knowledge to bear on something written centuries ago, to carry out a check of rationality, of relevance, of rightness in the now. But now I’m straying into the territory of yet another sacred cow …
Let’s get back to what’s important – those 58 lost lives, the hundreds of injured – some afflicted with life-changing injuries, some who’ll suffer from PTSD and survivor’s guilt. Let’s remember them.
And if we keep remembering them, then maybe one day things will change, and we won’t find ourselves shrugging when we hear of yet another mass killing in the USA.
Whilst searching for a suitable image for my post, I came across the story of Greg Zanis. In case you’re not a link clicker, it tells how, for the past 20 years, Greg Zanis has raised unofficial memorials to victims of mass murder, placing over 20,000 hand-carved crosses across the USA. His phone keeps ringing, and the number of crosses keeps climbing. Before Las Vegas, he already had 48 crosses built, ready to be taken to the “next inevitable tragedy” (his words, not mine). He didn’t expect to need more …
© Debra Carey, 2017
I just can’t shrug. But I do feel anger. Anger against the gun culture and the NRA and every idiot who supports them.
We had a truly awful PM who did one good thing that startled us all, because we weren’t expecting it from the likes of him: John Howard tightened the gun laws, after the Port Arthur massacre, and had a major buy-back of semi-automatics. See, we don’t have a gun culture here and most of us just don’t understand the way the Americans romanticise their past to justify it. But we do have lunatics. I’m not even talking about the murderers. There are minor crazies, like the husband of a friend of mine, who used his semi-automatic to shoot cats that entered their back garden! What a fuss he made when they made him hand in his toy! But if you shoot at anything that annoys you in the yard, how can we be sure you won’t shoot at a human?
A thoughtful and considered piece Debs. So glad my story inspired you to think about this tragic event. I too had that same reaction at first – a shrug, ‘again?’ move one, but I hope we never become immune or normalised to such events, when so many innocent lives are destroyed. If we are, then all hope is lost.
Sue, I’ll admit that my reaction (or lack of reaction) disturbed me, for that is not me. I think I’m all burned out on anger at the NRA and its supporters. What makes me feel that my strong emotions are falling on stony ground, however, is those good people who hold that right dear, despite everything that has happened *and* keep on happening. It’s like there’s some sort of bypass in their brains disabling them from seeing the correlation.
Your friend’s husband sounds truly scary and your closing question is very apposite. As you say, when a man such as John Howard acts, it makes it even more bewildering observing the US.
Perfectly expressed Iain and thank you again for reminding me how very important it is that we continue to react to such circumstances with outrage and distress.
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